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UPDATE; Santa Maria City Council votes to increase water and sewer rates for the next 4 years

Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 01:51:28-04

UPDATE (10:34 p.m.) -- The Santa Maria City Council unanimously voted at Tuesday night's meeting to increase water and sewer rates for customers over the next four years.

The City of Santa Maria is looking to increase water and sewer rates for customers over the next four years.

While a public hearing on the matter is scheduled during Tuesday's city council meeting, Utilities Director Shad Springer say it is something that has been in the works for the past three years.

According to the city, customers were notified of the proposed rate increases in July and August.

If enacted, the increases would start January 1 and continue through 2023.

Santa Maria resident Cindy Evans says she doesn't like the idea of paying more for water and sewer but that with more regulations and the city's need to maintain its aging infrastructure, it's something that needs to be considered.

"It falls on all of us," Evans said. "So we all have to chip in and pay according to our needs and our usage."

The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month and a variable consumption charge per unit of water.

The city says most single family residences will see about a $15 increase per bill.

"With this change in rates. we are also changing the way the water system is charged," Springer said. "We are reducing the number of tiers that are currently charged for the variable rate or the consumption, so it really depends on how much water a customer uses on what the rate increase might be."

The increase for sewer would also include a fixed charge for residential customers and a variable rate for commercial users.

Springer said that due to the consolidation of different classes of users and the removal of tiers, it is not a straight percentage to percentage comparison from current rates to the proposed rates for the coming years.

According to Springer, the last rate increase was approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot has changed since then.

California endured a drought which led to conservation efforts, and while Springer says it is always a good thing to conserve water, it did mean there was less revenue for the city.

He said this new cost of service study aims to address the current and future needs of the city.