Questions about serving on the Portland Utility Board? Interested in talking with a current Board member about their experiences on the Board?
Contact us anytime firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-823-1810
Serving on the Portland Utility Board (PUB) is a unique opportunity to give community voice, perspective, and influence the budget and policy decisions of the Portland Water Bureau, Bureau of Environmental Services, and City Council.
You’ll have the opportunity to gain knowledge about the inner workings of the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services; the policy and budget issues related to water, sewer, and utilities; and how City government works. You’ll have the chance to use and develop your skills and experience working on a collaborative board and presenting recommendations to bureau leadership and elected officials.
We encourage community members with diverse lived, work, and community experience and a passion for clean drinking water, healthy communities, and healthy watersheds to apply.
Support for your participation
We remove barriers to participation by providing the following participation supports:
- Honorarium — Voting members may receive a monetary honorarium of up to $500 per calendar year from the City for volunteer service.
- Technology support — if needed for your participation in virtual meetings.
- Trimet and parking passes; food —If/when meeting in person
- Interpretation and Translation
- Materials in an alternative format, auxiliary aids, or other accommodations
Don’t let a barrier deter you from applying! If we missed something let us know. Please contact Board support staff with any requests, questions, or concerns so we can address them together.
Highlights of recent Board accomplishments
Affordability — The Board’s equity-driven approach to affordability adds momentum to BES’ own efforts to rethink affordability. The Board centers those who are least able to pay their bills and thus, are most impacted by even small rate changes. The Board’s input has encouraged the bureau to engage more deeply with communities to better understand their lived experiences and the impact BES’ policies have on them, resulting in positive innovations, e.g., in BES’ partnerships.
Ambassadorship — PUB creates broader connections to communities for the utility bureaus. Serving on PUB gives community members a nuanced understanding of bureau operations, the multi-faceted issues they face, and the importance and complexity of utility work. PUB members effectively serve as bureau-community connectors. They are able to speak to the importance of the utility bureaus and to invite other community members to engage with PUB and the bureaus, giving the bureaus a wider network of community relations.
Billing, Debt Recovery, and Financial Assistance — The Board encourages the bureaus to develop policies and practices that address the needs of those most impacted by structural inequities, e.g., evaluation of the effectiveness and value of shutting off water service. The Board has also encouraged the Water Bureau to adopt communication methods that are more effective with communities the government struggles to reach. The Board has emphasized active consideration of the lived realities of communities in devising communication strategies. PUB’s input contributed to the bureau’s decision to revise the language in customer notices and to increase outreach to customers with outstanding past due balances.
Hiring, Retention, and Promotion Practices— The Board’s united voice on the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the bureaus’ hiring practices and insistence that the bureaus address deficient practices has amplified the energy and attention with which BES tackles these issues. PUB’s interest in BES’ work on these issues has helped staff check their assumptions, be more reflective, ensure they are doing a good job of explaining current processes, and include more people in the work.
Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR)– In response to PUB feedback, bureau leadership adjusted the timeline, engaged more directly with community leaders, and worked with PUB to form a community-driven selection committee.PUB emphasized the importance of including those the program intends to serve, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) small business owners, early on in designing the program; the importance of choosing partners who have earned and enjoy relationship and trust within BIPOC communities; and the need to ensure decisions are not made within a vacuum of white privilege. A PUB representative served on the SPUR committee and was instrumental in improving the program. Like PUB, the SPUR committee encouraged the bureaus to take a relational approach to community. For example, the SPUR committee recommended directly contacting applicants who did not receive a credit to offer them other supports. PUB input on SPUR has also had far-reaching impact, e.g., BES will use this feedback in designing outreach for the Comprehensive Rate Review. PUB continues to advocate for funds at the local and state level.
It is the policy of the City of Portland that no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any city program, service, or activity on the grounds of race, color, national origin, disability, or other protected class status. Adhering to Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II civil rights laws, the City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities by reasonably providing: translation and interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, and auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact 503-823-1810 or 311, Relay Service: 711.