Last Tuesday, City Council approved a 5 and 3 percent increase in water and sewer rates, respectively, to take effect on Aug. 1. It is estimated that the average single-family household will see an increase of $1.23 a month for sewer and $1.76 a month for water services.
The proposal, originally discussed on May 11, was approved in a 4 to 1 vote with Councilmember Lamar Heystek dissenting.
Davis resident John Munn cautioned the Council at the May 11 meeting about keeping rates affordable for residents.
“I don’t think that the proposed rate increases are going to be sustainable,” Munn said. “There’s going to be some real hard thinking about what the city is going to do to maintain affordability for its residents.”
Actual rates will vary based on usage, but residents can expect to pay anywhere from $1,650 to $1,840 per year for water and sewer services. Total revenue from the utility rate increases is estimated to be $12.4 million for sanitary sewer and $10.9 million for water during the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The rate increases are supposed to help pay for operations, maintenance and capital replacement projects. Projects include better waste water treatment facilities to help meet new federal government standards. The penalty for not complying with these standards is a fine of $10,000 a day. The city of Dixon is currently facing this fine.
One of the major concerns about this proposal is its effect on residents living on a fixed or low income such as senior citizens.
“We’re not allowed to do a senior discount for this,” said Councilmember Sue Greenwald. “The most we could do is rely more on usage [to cut costs].”
However, Doug Fetterly, a member of the natural resources commission, urged Davis residents and businesses to cut down on water usage.
“The average water use per capita in Davis is 160 gallons a day,” Fetterly said. “It would behoove our residents and businesses to take this on and reduce their usage. The city needs to take on a greater role in encouraging those reductions.”
JANE TEIXEIRA can be reached at email@example.com.