Tahoe City utility will raise rates | SierraSun.com

Tahoe City utility will raise rates

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

Come spring, customers of the Tahoe City Public Utility District will be paying a larger monthly bill for water and sewer services.

The utility’s board of directors voted in a special session Tuesday to increase sewer services by 5 percent and water services by 17.5 percent, effective April 1.

Before approving the increase, the board first held a public protest hearing in which only four audience members spoke to protest the increases. More than 20 people attended the hearing.

The district received a total of 182 protests, spoken, written and otherwise, since it proposed the hike, according to General Manager Bob Lourey. To overturn the decision to raise rates, a majority of the district’s 7,300 customers would have had to protest by Tuesday’s meeting, according to Proposition 218, a tax initiative approved by California voters in 1996.

During Tuesday’s meeting, verbal protests varied, calling on the utility to restructure internally to save costs and to consider low-income ratepayers. Joe Lanza, a local restaurant owner, said the district would in effect be raising rates three times, twice in April with the sewer and water proposals, and again next year when the district plans to implement its new consumption-based water metering system.

The metering of water is a state mandate. All customers with meters must be charged on consumption by 2010, according to the district’s Web site.

The board split the water and sewer increase into two ordinances and voted on them separately. The water increase vote was unanimous and the sewer vote was 4-1, with Vice President Erik Henrikson voting against the increase.