On May 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm, the Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District Board of Directors will hold a public hearing at Orchard Elementary School, 1040 Q Street, Rio Linda, California 95673, to consider the proposed water rate increases and charges in this notice.
Proposition 218 requires the District to notify property owners of proposed changes to property-related fees such as water service. Letters went out to property owners last week. The proposed rates, if adopted, will go into effect on or after July 1, 2016. Proposition 218 requires that property owners be given the right to protest increases in water rate charges.
After review by independent financial and technical experts, the District is recommending rate updates to maintain the health and safety of the community and to protect the District’s financial health. The main factors that require the District to update rates are the increased cost of providing service to District customers, the need to standardize the water rate system in the District, the historic drought California is facing, and required capital improvement projects.
Currently, the District charges customers a bi-monthly flat fixed rate and a volumetric rate. The bi-monthly fixed rate varies depending on meter size. The volumetric rates are tiered and vary depending on meter size and the usage of water in a given period. In response to Capistrano Taxpayers Association, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano (2015) 235 Cal. App. 4th 1493, where the court found that tiered water rates did not accurately reflect the cost of service provided and violated Proposition 218, the District proposes a standardized system based on the American Water Works Association flat water rate standards to ensure that water rates are equivalent with the cost of providing that level of service.
California is currently facing the largest drought in the recent recorded history of the state. In April 2014, the Governor of California declared an ongoing State of Emergency due to continued severe drought conditions, and these conditions continue to exist into 2016. The State Water Resource Control Board has imposed restrictions to achieve a statewide 25% reduction in potable water usage. These restrictions require suppliers to reduce usage as compared to the amount used in 2013, and the District is required to achieve a 36% reduction.
The District has $9.3 million of water supply and distribution improvements planned from fiscal year (July 1 through June 30, “FY”) 2016 to FY 2020 (see Table 3). Several wells within the District are contaminated with Hexavalent Chromium and require Hexavalent Chromium treatment facilities, while others are beyond repair and require full replacement. The capital projects required to treat and replace the contaminated wells total $9.2 million of the $9.3 million in total capital projects.
Why rate increases?
The Governors drought emergency declaration resulted in a decrease in water consumed within the District and has led to a decrease in District revenues. In addition, the District requires greater funding sources to complete the $9.3 million in capital improvement projects. Rate updates are necessary to ensure the fees charged to each customer accurately reflect the cost of providing service to that customer, allow the District to maintain the necessary operating reserves and cover debt service payments. Rate increases are necessary to maintain the quality, safety, and security of the District local water supply and to ensure our community’s continued health, safety, and financial integrity. Our local water supply must be properly maintained and protected to ensure clean, safe drinking water and secure, adequate water capacity in the event of a major earthquake, fire, or catastrophic emergency.
What is the impact on my bill?
In FY 2016 water customers using a ¾” or less meter and 26 cubic feet of water are paying $86.84 bi-monthly. Under the proposed rates that same customer will pay $96.16 bi-monthly, a 10.7% increase (under drought stage 2 volumetric rates).
How do I protest the rate increase?
If you wish to oppose the proposed rates you must submit a written protest to be considered by the Board, even if you plan to attend the public hearing. If written protests are submitted by a majority of the affected property owners (50% plus one), the proposed rate increases cannot be imposed.
Written protests must contain:
- A description of the property, such as the address, utility account number (shown on your bills) or the County Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN)
- The name(s) of the property owner(s)
- A description of whether or not the protest is in opposition to the water rate increase
- A signature of the property owner of record or the service customer of record.
A property owner or customer who is not of record may cast a valid protest only if he or she submits evidence satisfactory to the District Clerk that he or she is an owner or customer responsible for payment of the fees. Only one protest for each property will be counted.
Please mail or deliver your written protest to the Board Clerk at:
Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District
Attn: District Clerk
730 L St. Rio Linda, CA 95673
Your written protest must be received (not postmarked) by the District Clerk prior to the close of the public hearing on May 16, 2016. Written protests may be filed by US Mail or hand-delivered to the District Clerk. EMAIL AND FACSIMILE (FAX) PROTESTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.