Negotiations between city and tribe reach impasse


The City of Siletz and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon (CTSI) have reached an impasse in timely negotiations regarding CTSI’s performance of a written agreement between the two entities dating back to 1982. 

The contract allowed CTSI to pay the same (single user) utility rates (water/sewer) as resident users within the city limits. This contract explains that CTSI would “pay its proportionate share of total project costs” for projects such as when the sewer plant needed replacement.

This contribution was considered to be in lieu of paying double water/sewer rates that other out-of-city rate payers must pay. Under this same contract, CTSI has not had to pay system development charges, like other city utility customers pay, and CTSI builds and maintains their own water and sewer lines over which the city has no utility right of way. CTSI is the only organization within the city water/sewer system with such an agreement.

The city’s wastewater facility has outlasted its design life, is worn out and must be replaced before a catastrophic failure occurs. The engineered costs are estimated to top $6 million. CTSI has thus far not agreed to pay its obligations under the written contract. If the city does not start finding financing immediately, the city cannot meet its budget time lines.  Without CTSI’s contractual contribution, the rise in the sewer utility rates will be the highest; with CTSI’s contractual contribution, the rise in the sewer rates should be the lowest possible under the circumstances. 

At present, CTSI has not agreed to pay anything, and the city is seeking the full project financing to meet its budget deadlines.

The city of Siletz is still very open to continue these negotiations and find a solution to this issue, as it is in the best interest of all parties involved to keep utility rates from greatly escalating.

CTSI generously contributes to the community at large, including the Siletz Fire District, the Siletz Valley School and the Siletz Library District. The city does not manage, fund nor operate any schools, fire districts or libraries, as they are separate governmental entities. It is unfair, in the city’s view, to say contributions to those entities is the same as a contribution to the city government, or counts as a contribution under the parties 1982 contract.

The city council wishes to keep its citizens informed of these developments because it affects all its water and sewer users and what they will pay. Further information is available at Siletz City Hall and forthcoming at future city council meetings, and you are encouraged to attend.

Submitted by members of the Siletz City Council: Mayor Will Worman, Leslie Button, Ron Hervey, Patti Skauge and Jeff Clark.

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