A public hearing will take place May 6 regarding Davis Proposition 218, a proposed utility rate change that would take effect Aug. 1.
“The staff will present why the increase in utility rates is necessary,” said Davis city clerk Margaret Roberts. “They will open a public hearing, and they can speak for or against the hearing. They make their decisions based on the information.”
Whenever there is a rate increase, a public hearing is one of the specific steps required by state law, said operations administrator Sue Gedestad.
In the past, residential sewer was charged as a flat rate, regardless of the household’s water usage.
“The purpose of changing the methodology is an effort to get rid of the inequity of the flat rate,” Gedestad said. “The household of four people is paying the same amount as one person.”
Sanitary sewer rates will increase by approximately $1.62 per month, sanitation rates will increase $0.83 per month and water rates will increase by about $3.00 per month. The Davis City Council approved a new sewer rate methodology Jan. 22.
“It’s an increase in the residents’ monthly bills and people will have to adjust accordingly,” Roberts said. “The city isn’t here to make money but it’s trying to provide services.”
This proposed rate change will generate over $500,000 for operational costs and wastewater plant upgrades.
“[The revenue] will be used to cover operation of maintenance as well continued support for the waste water treatment upgrade,” Gedestad said.
“Typically the [prices of utility rate] increases are to meet the actual costs to provide the service,” Roberts said.
The monthly rate increases were implemented because of the wastewater treatment the state is requires, she added.
“We will be complying with the state guidelines,” Gedestad said. “It is necessary to ensure water supply that we can cover for the needs of the Davis residents.”
The increase in utility rates may affect students and businesses, said the Davis Chamber of Commerce chair Steve Greenfield.
“These costs will most likely pass on to businesses and tenants in terms of hiring leases,” he said. “As for the businesses, they are going to have a higher operating cost without any direct benefit, so that will ultimately pass on less ability to make a profit or pass on goods and services they are providing.”
Though there is an increase in the water utility rates, students don’t think it will affect them very much next year.
“It’s not really much of an increase,” said UC Davis international relations major senior Scott Inouye. “College students already go through high rates of utility use. I already pay $40 to $50 a month for utilities split among five housemates.”
JANET HUNG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org XXX.