Taxpayers Association approves a water rate hike

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego County Taxpayers Association approved the city of San Diego’s plan to raise water rates by 9.8 percent in January, and an additional 6.9 percent next July.

According to a city report, a residential customer whose monthly bill is $36 would see a hike to a little more than $39.

The proposed increases are based on a cost of service study that projects rising expenses in the future.   

"The city’s Public Utilities Department has made a solid case for its rate increase, including demonstrating they’re using ratepayer dollars more efficiently," said Theresa Andrews, interim president and CEO of the SDCTA.   

Department officials said they’re faced with higher costs for imported water, and incoming water from the desalination plant in Carlsbad is also expected to be more expensive. At the same time, departmental revenues are falling because customers have cut back on consumption in response to the drought.   

The SDCTA Board of Directors said the rate increase request was justifiable.   

Public Utilities Director Halla Razak, said that the department could fall behind on debt service if the rates aren’t raised, which could increase the cost of future infrastructure projects.   

Imported water makes up 85 percent of the city’s total, and the department’s proposal foresees additional rate hikes in 2017, 2018 and 2019, based on projected rises in costs for imported water in the future.

November 17, the City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the rates, and possibly make a decision. Notices of the public hearing have been
mailed to customers.   

The council last voted to raise water rates in November 2013, when the hike was more than 7 percent. However, a department presentation says the average monthly bill of $70.81 is below the average of the various water districts in San Diego County, which is just over $78.

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