Updated 8:29 p.m., Nov. 9th–
Sentinel staff report– A public hearing will be held at the Community Center on Wednesday night as the Citrus Heights Water District considers a new $10 service charge and additional fee increases the district says are needed to address aging water mains and rising costs.
The proposed increases would take effect Jan. 1, 2022, and include a $4.04 rise in the bi-monthly service charge rate for a typical 1-inch meter and a new $10.05 service charge for the district’s “Project 2030” plan to replace aging water mains from the year 2030 to 2080. The district says its plan addresses the need to fund replacement of old water mains that were primarily installed between 1960 and 1985, and have a useful life of about 70 years before becoming prone to failure and costly emergency repairs.
A water consumption rate increase of 1 cent per unit is also proposed, which would increase the rate per unit to $1.18. Each unit refers to 748 gallons of water delivered.
The district’s three elected directors will also consider adopting an updated Water Shortage Fee Schedule, which would authorize consumption rates to increase by 10-50% during a drought, depending on what stage water shortage might occur. The district says water shortage rates are not proposed to be implemented at this time, but adopting the fee structure will allow the district to put the shortage fees in place “if and when they are determined to be necessary in the future.”
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A total of seven protest letters were sent in as of the meeting agenda’s publication date. One resident called the proposed $10.50 charge “ridiculous,” noting in her letter that she is a senior citizen on a fixed income who will “probably be dead” by the year 2030.
The resident also said she had protested the district’s increases over the years primarily due to the proposals raising of fixed service charges. She, and others, advocate for increases to be made to the consumption rate instead, so residents can cut their bills by cutting consumption.
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In an October video update, the district said its Project 2030 plan includes a mix of pay-as-you go funding, pre-funding, and debt financing, to cover the cost of major infrastructure replacement. General Manager Hilary Straus says the funding plan ensures “intergenerational equity,” which he describes in the video as a way where the “burden of funding the water main replacement program is equitably distributed across both current as well as future customers.”
The district also noted its rates did not rise in 2021, but said the new fee increases are necessary to plan for the future and address rising wholesale water costs. A draft 2022 budget shows fee increases will also cover a proposed 12% increase in salary and benefits expenses next year, raising the cost of employing the district’s 36 full-time equivalent staff to $5.97 million.
The water district’s upcoming public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 in South Flex Room A in the Citrus Heights Community Center, located at 6300 Fountain Square Drive. Those interested in submitting a letter of protest can find instructions in the district’s Proposition 218 notice about the proposed fee increases.
If approved, the increases will affect about two-thirds of Citrus Heights residents, as some residents are served by neighboring water districts and will not face the proposed increases.
An agenda packet for the district’s Nov. 10 meeting, which was not posted on the board agenda section of the district’s website until the afternoon of Nov. 9, can be downloaded at chwd.org/about/board-of-directors/#agenda.