Utility and Service Districts

Overview

A County Service District is a separate legal and financial entity, which has taxing authority. Service Districts are generally established for the purposes of providing specific service facilities, as identified in ORS Chapter 451.010. County Service Districts are commonly used in Oregon to provide and finance a variety of services including, but not limited too; water, sewer, library, public safety, fire, and extension services.

The formation of a district and any change of organization or proceedings are to be initiated, conducted, and completed as provided by ORS 198.705. As part of the formation process, a Governing Body for the district is established. This body is generally made up of the current County Board of Commissioners. When official district business is conducted, the Board will convene as the “Governing Body” for that specific district. Although they are generally scheduled in conjunction with other County meetings, all district meetings are independently noticed from other County business.

The district has its own Budget Committee appointed by the Governing Body, which generally consists of three citizen members along with the three Board members. In addition the Governing Body may choose to appoint a Citizens Advisory Committee to assist staff in recommending service rates, as well as maintenance and operational policies. These members may or may not be the same citizen members. The Advisory Committees are a public body and as such are subject to all statutory procedures related to public records and meeting laws. The committee is subject to compliance with by-laws adopted by the Governing Body.

The district is managed and operated under an ordinance that establishes and outlines legal and procedural aspects of running the specific operation. This ordinance is adopted by the Benton County Board of Commissioners. In addition the district can adopt enabling ordinances for a range of activities including assessment districts. The Board of Commissioners will also identify the specific department that will have responsibility for day-to-day operations of the district.

In accordance with the operating ordinance, rates for the district are established and adopted through a rate order. The rate order is generally proposed to the Governing Body by the Advisory Committee and County staff. It is then adopted by the Budget Committee after a public hearing process.