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Atascadero moving forward with 19% wastewater rate increase plan

Posted: 12:23 AM, May 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-15 03:25:04-04

Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater services starting in just a few months.

The last time wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was one of the most watched shows on television.

Since 1993, rates have stayed the same, but with improvements ahead, rates are likely to rise 19 percent.

How the increased rates would impact residents. (Tuckfield & Associates)

On Tuesday, City Council unanimously voted to move forward with a plan to increase wastewater service rates beginning in August.

“Those who are watching, I hope you are understanding the need for this,” Mayor Heather Moreno said after the vote. “If we’re going to be good stewards of the wastewater treatment plant and have this working for decades in the future, this is something we need to do.”

Currently Atascadero has the lowest wastewater rates in the county, hovering around on average of $20 per month. Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo residents pay an average of $75 per month.

A table comparing wastewater rates in San Luis Obispo County. (Tuckfield & Associates)

The 19 percent increase would still keep the town at the lowest paying level, but bring funds for improvements outlined in its wastewater master plan. Residents and businesses would be impacted on a scale.

A view of how each type of business would be impacted. (Tuckfield & Associates)

“Each customer is going to share proportionately in the system costs based on how they contribute that wastewater,” Clayton Tuckfield said during his presentation of the increase. Tuckfield, founder of Tuckfield & Associates management consulting firm out of Newport Beach, lead the study conducted by the city.

The Water Reclamation Facility is a big part of that plan and improvements would cost an estimated $23 million dollars. The plan suggests to continually raise rates, which could mean residents end up paying an average of $50 per month in the year 2029. Any further rise would be revisited next year.

Residents can protest this proposal. A majority will be needed for it to stop the increase. But there are specific rules for the written protest to county. Residents will receive instructions on how to file a written protest when notices are mailed out this week.

The public hearing on the issue is scheduled for July 9.