People in Paso Robles could be seeing a rate increase on their sewer bill this summer.
Paso Robles City Council unanimously approved the start of a new public process to increase sewer rates in the city at their meeting on Tuesday.
The increase will also apply to commercial entities like businesses, hotels, and schools.
Paso Robles Waste Water Resources Manager, Matt Thompson explains the need for the proposed increase.
"We have made major improvements to this city's wastewater sewage system to improve the quality of the water that we dispose into the Salinas river but also to prepare for future recycled water. Unfortunately, in that same time period we have seen a decrease in revenues because the nearby city of Templeton has decided to disconnect from the city's sewer system."
A disconnect that he says cost the wastewater district.
"Templeton was like a very large customer of the city's sewer system, and so by disconnecting from the city's sewer system, the city has seen a decrease of 700 thousand dollars, [a] significant hit," says Thompson.
Currently, the typical household pays about $46 a month in sewer fees. According to Thompson, if these adjustments are made, residential customers will see an increase of $11.40 to their monthly sewer bill.
"The typical household sewer rate will be about $54 per month starting July 1st and then there will be gradual increases for 4 years thereafter," he says.
Some community members took the opportunity to speak out during Tuesday's city council discussion.
"How was the appropriate law or statute determined by those directly involved in the discussion that article 13D, section 6 was the appropriate one to have the sewer rates comply with?" asked one caller.
Others emailed in public comment and question.
One Paso Robles couple expressed their protest to the potential increases writing:
"Why now in the middle of a pandemic would the city have the gall to ask for an increase when many people are in financial distress."
Thompson says the increase will alleviate burden for future generations.
"We are asking the community as the owners of this wastewater system, to help us generate enough revenue to properly take care of it so we don't have to rely on future generations to make drastic improvements to this system."
The city council will hear and consider written protests and oral comments against the proposed rate increase prior to and at the public hearing set for April 20th.
If accepted, sewer bills would increase starting July 1st.