PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora.

The Tuolumne Utilities District board will vote Tuesday on enacting a previously stalled 2.78 percent increase on monthly water-service rates, in the first of several such increases slated for consideration this year.

The increase, originally scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2013, was suspended by the TUD board at a meeting the previous March. However, the prolonged drought has forced the board to reconsider that decision.

If the 2.78 percent rate increase is approved at Tuesday's meeting, the average residential customer's bill would rise approximately $1.20, from about $43.32 to $44.52 per month, following a 30-day notification period. This would generate about $260,000 per year in additional revenue for the district, according to meeting documents.

The increase is part of a five-year rate plan that was approved by a previous board in June 2012. Under the plan, rates were scheduled to rise by 2.78 percent on July 1 in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

One reason for resurrecting the suspended 2013 increase now is to help offset an expected $5 million expense from drought-related operating costs and revenue losses, according to TUD General Manager Tom Scesa.

Mandatory water-use restrictions recently enacted by the board, which include a ban on all lawn watering, are aimed at cutting the entire district's usage in half. Customers who don't reduce their monthly use by at least 25 percent will face penalties and fines.

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.