New Water and Sewer Rates Go Into Effect

Rates adjusted following unanimous 5-0 vote by the council last November

South Pasadena Water Issues

Residents will see an increase when they open their water bills this year after the South Pasadena City Council voted last November to establish new rates effective in January.

Residents are expected see the new water and sewer rates for January  service reflected in their March 2018 bills.

Water rates are going up for each of the next five years as a result of increases the city incurs in the cost of providing water, including staffing and operational costs, infrastructure improvements, to pay back bonds in which the city borrowed and to pay for expensive imported water, which city officials projected will continue to increase.

In recent years the City Council has earmarked a large amount of funds in the city’s budget to aggressively improve roads and address the city’s aging water and reservoir system.

On the sewer side, there’s good news as many customers will see a decrease in their rates. “The sewer bills for the commercial customers will be based on actual water consumption instead of a fixed monthly charge,” the City of South Pasadena said in the statement.  “Small businesses using less water will see a slight decrease in their sewer bills, however businesses using more water will see an increase in their sewer bills.”

South Pasadena City Council members followed a legally prescribed process to impose adjustments to city water and sewer rates. As part of a multiple step process, residents were given 45 days to oppose the increase by submitting protest letters at City Hall.

Had the City Council received 50 percent plus one legal protest letters, the water rate and sewer increase would not have moved forward.

In the end, the council received 63 valid protests letters, making it impossible for the 5-member panel to adopt new water and sewer rates,” noted Aguilar.

Following the public hearing at its regularly scheduled Nov. 1 meeting, council members adopted a resolution establishing new water rates over the next five years.

For the next five years, the rates will increase each year. The average water rate increase for property owners will be about 9% in 2018, 7% in 2019 and 6% in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

A water customer’s bill is comprised of of a bi-monthly fixed charge, which is increasing as part of a rate study. Then there’s a volume charge per cubic feet of water used, which is the variable part of the bill, which is based on how much water is used.

City officials say the bi-monthly fixed charge is a fixed amount per billing period based on the size of the meter. On top of that, there’s a variable part of the bill, which is based on the amount of water used.

There are three tiers for billing purposes depending on how much water a resident uses, calculated at either tier one, tier two or tier three.

As more water is use, higher tiers will e reached. The new water bill will include an efficiency fee of 14 cents per cubic feet, which supports water conservation projects.

“City of South Pasadena residents did an exceptional job in meeting the water conservation requirements mandated by the State of California. However, the prolonged drought in southern California has seriously impacted the water supply,” reads a statement issued by the City of South Pasadena. “This is especially true of ground water from where South Pasadena obtains the majority of its water. These sources are at historically low levels. The City is proposing to increase the water and sewer rates to generate sufficient revenues to ensure reliable water and sewer services.”

For questions regarding the proposed rates, contact the City’s Finance Department at (626) 403-7250.

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