Utility board considers 50 percent water rate hike over five years

By Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat October 24, 2012 09:06 am

A proposed rate increase would hike water bills in San Andreas, Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat, Glencoe and Paloma more than 50 percent during the next five years.

The proposal will come before the board of the Calaveras Public Utility District in a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13, in the district offices at 506 W. St. Charles St. in San Andreas. It affects 1,990 connections serving a population of about 5,000 people in the aforementioned towns and surrounding outlying areas.

The board last adopted a rate hike in 2006, with the last step of the increase implemented in 2010, said CPUD General Manager Donna Leatherman.

The base rate charged to a typical residential customer would rise from $26.15 monthly to $32.69 at the beginning of 2013 and increase incrementally each subsequent year until it reaches $39.73 if adopted as proposed.

“To continue Calaveras Public Utility District’s long tradition of providing reliable water service to our customers, rate increases are needed to cover increasing operational costs, to save for future system replacements and improvements,” stated a notice sent out to district customers. “The main factors contributing to the increase in operational costs are due to utilities, chemicals, operations and maintenance costs for the district, and regulatory fees required for water quality and compliance. The district also needs to keep up reserve accounts to help assist during emergencies and to fund infrastructure replacements.”

“I think, basically, all public agencies are facing this. Unfortunately, I think this is just a sign of the times,” Leatherman said. “Our transmission line is facing its 40-year birthday (and) we’re starting to build for the future.”

She added that the district’s rates have long remained lower than those of nearby agencies like the Calaveras County Water District and city of Angels Camp.

The district completed its rate study in conjunction with the Sacramento-based nonprofit Rural Community Assistance Corp.

In accordance with Proposition 218, the board is accepting written protests against the increase. Those must be sent by mail to P.O. Box 566, San Andreas, CA 95249, or hand-delivered to the district office prior to the hearing.

Protests must include the property owners’ signature and date; their name printed or typed under the signature; the address or parcel number of the affected property; a written statement that the author of the protest letter is the owner of the property; and a written statement that the letter constitutes a protest to the proposed water rate increase.

Leatherman said the district has received about 20 protests thus far as well additional inquiries from walk-ins to the office paying their bills and telephone calls.

“For the most part, they understand why the rates are being increased,” she said. “They know it keeps costing more and more to deliver service.”

Contact Sean Janssen at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 890-7741.