ENTERPRISE – Six of the seven members in Enterprise city government are targeted for recall, fallout from these officials’ support for a $5.75-million water system improvement project that requires raising customers’ rates.

Michele Young, city administrator, confirmed last week that resident Fred Tippett, leader of the recall effort, had filed two required forms with the Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s office – one form a Statement of Organization for Petition Committee, the other a Campaign Account Information form – and City Hall has since signed off on his petition’s format.

With those moves, the clock has started on a 90-day signature-gathering period, giving Tippett and his allies until Jan. 27 to collect valid signatures of at least 143 city voters on six separate petitions. Five petitions target individual city councilors – Larry Christman, Stacey Karvoski, Laura Miller, Tim Parks and Jenni Word – and one names Mayor Margie Shaw.

Only Councilor Bill Coffin, who recently voted against going forward with the water project, is not named on a petition.

Enterprise government commissioned an engineering study in 2012 of three configuration alternatives for a project to fix water pressure problems citywide. The city council later voted to pursue one of those options, Alternative 2.

In July 2013 the city mailed all residents a brochure explaining the alternatives and the reasons for selecting Alternative 2. Officials followed that effort up with a Sept. 19 town hall meeting to again explain the city’s problems and choices and to answer questions.

The town hall was well-attended, but a number of the people there were angry about the planned rate increase – estimated at $11.85 per month for residential users – and didn’t sound at all mollified by the time the event wrapped up.

Low-pressure areas represent the system’s most pressing issue because state regulators have put the city on notice that it must begin providing at least 20 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure at all times. The first notification of non-compliance came in February 2012. Two months ago, a regional engineer for Oregon’s Drinking Water Program warned the city again.

According to Councilor Laura Miller, the city could eventually be fined $500 per day if it continues to drag its feet on applying a fix.

Recall leader Tippett doesn’t view the proposed project, together with its rate increase, as the proper solution, however.

“I understand that part of it has to be done, but there’s a multitude of ways of doing it,” Tippett says.

“They could put pressure pumps in the houses in the basements, because there’s only seven of them,” Tippett said, referring to a group of homes on Pace Avenue where pressures below 20 psi have been documented. Tippett, 84, an Enterprise native, said he used to live on the hill below the airport and therefore has personal experience with that area’s low water pressure. “Our pressure was low, but we could still use it... But all I did was put in a pump and pressure tank, a small one, and took care of all the problems.”

Tippett suggests the city should either place a pressure pump in the main line near the low-pressure connections, or construct a water tower. Either approach, he contends, could fix the low-pressure problem at a fraction of the cost of the city’s current proposal.

And he said the idea to launch recall petitions wasn’t solely his. “There was a lot of people asking me to do this. I didn’t just do it on my own.”

Young said the city is planning to hold another public information meeting about the water system. Tentatively slated for Nov. 13, the gathering would include state and regional officials with varying perspectives on Enterprise’s effort to improve its system.

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