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Originally published August 3, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Page modified August 3, 2014 at 8:27 PM

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Portland flushes its role in outdoor-toilet business

The city has agreed to allow the toilet’s manufacturer to set the price and market the toilets, giving the city a royalty.


The Associated Press

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PORTLAND — The city of Portland will quit marketing the solar-powered outdoor potties its workers developed and will settle instead for a cut of the business.

Six years ago, the city installed the first of the stainless-steel public toilets dubbed the Portland Loo. It now has seven and hopes to install six more in parks.

The city also thought to make a business of marketing the toilets, at $90,000 each. It has sold four, with five more orders in the works.

The toilets were initially placed in areas where homeless people congregate.

Critics said the Loo and other projects were outside the core mission of the city utilities and contributed to rising rates. A judge found the city misspent $618,000 of Water Bureau funds on Loo efforts.

A ballot measure intended to wrest control of the utilities from the council and give it to an elected board failed. But sentiment was widespread that the spending ought to be reined in.

The city has now agreed to allow the toilet’s manufacturer to set the price and market the toilets, giving the city a royalty, The Oregonian reported.

The deal relieves the city of the expense of the business. It has spent at least $60,000 a year on workers in the Loo effort.

It also caps the city’s revenue prospects, should sales take off.

For example, the city made about $23,000 per unit on three of its sales. By contrast, the 8 percent royalty would fetch the city $7,200 per Loo, assuming manufacturer Madden Fabrication gets $90,000 per unit.



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