The rights-of-way are owned by the City. The responsibility to fund improvements and service for our rights-of-way ultimately rests with the taxpayers. In order to ensure a fair distribution of these costs, the City charges utility customers and others that use the right-of-way rather than passing the costs directly to taxpayers. For example, in September, 2014, Oregon City staff responded to a leak at Clackamas County's Tri-City Wastewater Treatment Plant (OregonLive article). The fee paid by the County helped to cover the City's cost for response.
Utilities are charged a user fee (like a rent) when they use City-owned lands in Oregon City. These fees help the City repair and maintain your public rights-of-way and other spaces. Utilities can pass these costs along to ratepayers. Under this policy, the fee is collected from all users of the rights-of-way, including service districts and utilities. This means that the burden is shared by all users and not just Oregon City taxpayers.