All About Oregon 811 Service Tariff Rates
The Oregon Utility Notification Center Board of Directors approved adjustments to the Service Tariff at its July 13, 2022 meeting. Paid by member utilities and underground facility operators on a per-ticket basis, the Service Tariff covers the costs of operating the call center and supporting statewide damage prevention efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Service Tariff?
As a public benefit nonprofit corporation with the powers of a state agency, the Oregon Utility Notification Center receives no tax money from state or federal government. All operations are funded through a service tariff paid for by underground facility members on a per ticket/notification basis.
As stated in ORS 757.552 (2)(b), the Oregon Utility Notification Center is required to, “… establish rates, on a per call basis, under which subscribers shall pay to fund all of the activities of the Oregon Utility Notification Center.”
When was the Service Tariff increased?
On July 13, 2022, the board approved a phased increase of the service tariff of 12.5% from $1.20 to $1.35 starting in August 2022 and an increase of another 3.7% to $1.40 per ticket starting January of 2023. Similarly, the rate for voice transmitted tickets increased from $6.50 to $7.31 on August 1, 2022, and to $7.58 in January 2023.
What are these funds used for?
Service Tariff funds support the current and future financial obligations of the Oregon Utility Notification Center. Almost the entirety of the OUNC’s revenue comes from the Service Tariff, while more than 3/4 of all expenditures are contractually obligated for continued call center operations.
The funds support training programs, outreach and system enhancements that improve system efficiency and reduce damages – saving time and costs for Oregon 811 system users.
Why were these increases necessary?
To put it simply, expenses are outpacing revenue, which is not sustainable for continued operations. There are three primary factors that are impacting the OUNC’s budget in the near term: declining revenue relating to the in/out ratio, increased personnel costs, and rising costs due to inflation.
Because the OUNC pays its call center contractor based on outgoing tickets and receives revenue from incoming tickets, the in/out ratio is a key consideration for the budget. Over the back half of 2021, and continuing in 2022, the in/out ratio has trended lower than the five-year average. As such, the organization will be required to utilize reserve funds to balance the budget.
In 2021, the OUNC hired its first Executive Director. He started in May 2021, so the personnel costs did not reflect a full year of expenses. Additionally, the organization hired an Executive Assistant & Outreach Coordinator who had supported the board as a temporary employee for more than 9 years. As such, personnel costs are expected to increase from 7.18% to 9.93% of total expenses this year.
Lastly, the call center contract has annual cost increases based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while the service tariff has no such allowance. With increased costs due to inflation, we expect the cost of the contract will be increasing at a higher rate than in recent years.
Can you cut costs or find other ways to keep rates down?
Yes. When looking at the budget and strategic plan, the board and staff consider ways of reducing costs, leveraging technology, increasing efficiency, and reconsidering exemptions to ensure equitable rates.
When were the previous increases?
Effective July 1, 2019, the rate increased from $1.05 to $1.20. Prior to that change, the previous rate increase to $1.05 was approved in 2004. To date, there has been no set schedule for escalation of the service tariff rate, and it has been adjusted on an as-needed basis.
If you have questions, comments or concerns about the Service Tariff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.