Tahoe City utility mulls rate increases
Water and sewer rates will most likely go up by April for 7,300 customers of the Tahoe City Public Utility District.
That was the message delivered by the district’s staff at a special meeting Friday.
Citing ever-stricter quality mandates by the state, Assistant Manager Cindy Gustafson said the district must increase revenues to pay for basic operations and maintenance of 40-year-old infrastructure.
Gustafson said district customers could see their flat-rate water bills jump by 7 to 17 percent.
“They will only see three-quarters of that increase because it won’t start until April,” Gustafson said after Friday’s special meeting of the utility’s board of directors.
District staff also proposed a 4 percent increase to sewer rates.
The proposed increases are based on findings of an outside consulting firm previously retained by the district, said Gustafson.
According to director Ron Treabess, many district residents pay for water and sewer services, but do not receive water from the district because they are served by private water companies like Tahoe Park Water Company and Tahoe Swiss Village Utility.
The rate increases, he said, would allow the Tahoe City-based district to re-allocate property tax funds that subsidize water rates into an account that can be used to serve all of the ratepayers in the territory.
The board gave ratepayers an extension on another proposed rate increase Friday, when the board reversed its previous position on charging for consumption of water.
District employees have been installing water meters according to the utility’s residential meter implementation plan since August 2005. The plan is the local district’s answer to a state mandate that begins Jan. 1, 2010, requiring that water customers with meters be billed on their consumption.
Board members had previously agreed to begin billing customers for water consumption in the summer of 2008, the year after the meters would be installed.
On Friday, the board decided to wait until 2009 to begin the meter-based billing.
Next year, the district will hold public workshops to begin informing customers of what their bills may look like and possible conservation measures to reduce water consumption.
The next step for the flat-rate and sewer rate increases, according to Gustafson, is for the board to set a proposed rate, which they will likely do at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 30 at 8:30 a.m. at their administrative offices in Tahoe City.
After that the proposal needs to be reviewed by staff.
The staff will then mail the proposal in the January bill statement. Not less that 45 days after the mailed notification is received, the district must hold a public hearing, at which time customers have a chance to comment and/ or protest the rate hike. If 50 percent of the utility’s customers plus one protest, the hike can be reversed.
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