NOTICE: Proposed increase for Oregon 811 Service Tariff Rates
The Oregon Utility Notification Center Board of Directors will discuss adjustments to the Schedule 1 Service Tariff at its July 13, 2022 meeting at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel (8235 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR, 97220).
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.”
What are you proposing to change?
The board is proposing 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 would increase from $6.50 to $7.31 on August 1, 2022, and to $7.58 in January 2023.
To increase stability for future years and predictability for ratepayers, the board is also proposing an annual increase for future years starting in January 2024 tied to the Consumer Price Index, that is not to exceed 3%. If the increase is not necessary in any given year, the board may choose to forgo the increase.
What will the funds be 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.
TOTAL REVENUE: $2,324,254
- 99.93% – Call Center Receipts (Service Tariff)
- .07% – Interest, fines, other
TOTAL EXPENSES: $2,394,785
- 76.36% – Call Center Operations/Contract
- 12.07% – Publicity
- 7.18 – Staff pay and benefits
- 3.13% – Board Administration, other administrative costs
- 1.25% – Training and education
The funds will support training programs, outreach and system enhancements that improve system efficiency and reduce damages – saving time and costs for Oregon 811 system users.
Why are 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. This proposal would be implemented alongside other considerations such as reducing costs, leveraging technology, increasing efficiency, and reconsidering exemptions to ensure equitable rates moving forward.
When were the last increases?
Effective July 1, 2019, the rate increased from $1.05 to $1.20, and there have been no changes since then. 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.
Why is an annual increase necessary if it hasn’t been necessary in the past?
An annual increase would provide predictability with smaller, regular increases rather than large, infrequent increases that are more difficult to absorb if not budgeted. Tying it to the Consumer Price Index will keep pace with the call center contract while determining a rate that is equitable, factors in inflation and sustains OUNC’s operations moving forward.
How will it impact my company?
This varies based upon your company’s ticket volumes. If you know on average how much you pay on an annual basis, that amount would increase 12.5% this year and 3.7% next year (independent of exemptions). If approved, future years would see an increase not to exceed 3%, tied to the Consumer Price Index. We can help estimate your increase if you reach out with a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My company receives exemptions. Will those be impacted?
If your company currently receives statutory exemptions per ORS 757.552 (4), those exemptions will not be impacted by this proposal.
Can I submit comments or testify on the proposal?
Absolutely. The board is committed to ensuring this is an open and transparent process. Before implementing an increase on the proposed date of August 1, the board will seek feedback from ratepayers in a variety of ways that are detailed in this document. Based on the comments and testimony received from stakeholders, the board may withdraw, adjust, or proceed with the proposal.
To provide your comments or testimony, you can:
- Submit your comments using the comment form below.
- Submit your comments in writing via email at email@example.com.
- Attend the July Board meeting to provide testimony at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel (8235 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR, 97220). The meeting starts at 9 a.m.
Service Tariff Feedback
To share your comments or concerns, please leave your feedback here or email firstname.lastname@example.org: