Getting warmer: Public utility supporters take next step to ballot measure

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The campaign to form an independent public water and sewer utility in Portland took the next step toward getting voters opinions on the idea.

Backers of the proposal delivered more than 50,000 signatures to the city elections office on Tuesday.

They say Portland water and sewer rates are too high, and they want politicians out of the utility management business.

Kent Craford is one of the petitioners. He told KATU, "With new leadership in the form of a public utility district, getting individual ratepayers serving as oversight over these two utilities, we can finally see some reforms and start to bring rates back down."

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who currently overseas the water and environmental services bureaus said, "I'm focused on doing a good job as a steward of our two utilities, and if this makes it onto the ballot, I say let's have a robust debate about whether it's a good idea."

It will take about a month for the Auditor's Office to validate the signatures. If confirmed, the measure would be on the ballot this May.