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Understanding the Utility Invoice
Have a question about how to read your Utility Invoice? The attached Utility Invoice Made Easier handout may be helpful. The City strives to have an invoice that is as easy to read and understand.
Other questions including where we are located, how to pay an invoice, and how to establish/discontinue service may be answered by visiting Frequently Asked Questions. The Utility Bill Information is another helpful link.
If you need to talk to a person about a specific issue on your invoice or service, you may email Utility Billing or call us at 503-635-0265 for general inquires.
Below is a detailed explanation of your Utility Invoice... click on sample picture for a larger view of that section of the statement.
Does your invoice look different or appear higher than expected? First look at the Water consumption and the Meter Read Dates (C on the handout). The City of Lake Oswego has a tiered water billing structure, which was adopted as a way to encourage conservation of a precious resource - water.
The Water consumption section of your invoice (D on the handout) lists how much water you used in each tier. Do you have usage in Tier 3? If so, this water is charged at a rate more than double the water consumed in Tier 1. Many times when people wonder about their invoice, the answer may be that they consumed more water in Tier 2 and Tier 3 than previous months.
If you would like to see the rates by consumption and how water consumption amount impacts a Utility Bill, play around with the water calculator.
The Water Usage Graph (J on the handout) provides consumption for the last 24 months - from the current billing month to the same month in the previous year. It is important to compare your consumption level to the same billing cycle since some people may use more water in the summer months.
Is your consumption double in the summer months? Triple? If so, do you suspect a leak? The chart just reflects your consumption, not the cost, so if the usage level is unexpectedly higher than a last similar billing month, review the How to Detect a Leak information.
If no leak and still perplexed about your water usage? The City offers free Water Audits in the summer and is a conservation resource aimed at helping people reduce their water usage. If you already consume at low levels, review the materials below about Fixed Rates.
The majority of a Utility Invoice is made up of fixed rates that change annually on July 1st. However, rates are implemented on the first billing cycle following the effective date.
The sewer charges are made up of a fixed rate and also a wintertime average based on the January, February, and March invoices. The wintertime average is located under the Sewer Charges (E on the attached handout). The sewer portion of your invoice remains fixed for 12 months – between August 1st and July 31st. Each household has its own wintertime average and it is why your fixed charges are different than your neighbor.
Often a customer will call who has used little water and/or is vigorously practicing conservation efforts, and wondering why the invoice isn't decreasing as much as they think it should. Others may call because they were out of town for a significant part of the month and thought the invoice would be lower. If you are already consuming completely in Tier 1, the amount of change you will see on your invoice is small from month to month. Again, this is because of the fixed portion of the invoice and the lower cost of Tier 1 water. For current and historical utility rates see our Master Fees & Charges booklet and click on Utility Rates in the table of contents.