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Santa Monica Water Rates Set to Jump
By Jorge Casuso
November 12, 2019 -- Santa Monica homeowners could see their bimonthly water bills increase by $36 over the next five years under a plan the City Council will consider early next year.
The rate hikes would help bridge an projected gap of $5.5 million a year in the City's water fund, which pays for maintaining the City's water and waste water systems, staff said in a report released last week.
Under the proposed rates, water customers would see a 20 percent increase the first year, a 18 percent increase the second year and 14 percent increases the following three years.
That amounts to an estimated increase of $36 in the bimonthly bill for an average single family home and a $48 increase for an average 8-unit apartment building, or $6 per unit.
The average commercial customer would see an estimated $87 increase on their bimonthly bill, staff said.
"The recommended rate increase would continue to offer close to the lowest water costs in the region for the average single-family homes," staff wrote in their report.
The new rates would be lower than those in Long Beach, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Culver City and Los Angeles, according a regional rate comparison by staff.
Santa Monica rates would be higher under the proposed hikes than those in Anaheim, Orange, Huntington Beach and Torrance, staff said.
The proposed rate hikes would help balance the waste water fund -- which spends about $25.7 million a year --over the next five years, staff said.
The fund supports sewer collection system operations and treatment and disposal of the City’s waste water through the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation’s Amalgamated System, staff said.
The the fund ensures the City can "carry out routine operation and maintenance activities" and "implement capital improvement programs for system resiliency," staff said.
Over the next five years, the fund can spend an average of about $3 million a year for one-time projects that include replacing or maintaining aging assets, staff said in August.
The Water Fund also can provide $3.9 million a year in funding for routine capital projects that include replacing aging water mains on a 100-year cycle ("City to Begin Replacing Broken Water Main on Ocean Avenue," August 15, 2019).
The proposed rate hikes will help Santa Monica achieve its goal to become water self-sufficient by 2013.
The City will host two open house events for residents and local businesses to learn about the rate proposals.
The first takes place this Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Santa Monica Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard.
The second takes place Monday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park’s Thelma Terry Building, 2200 Virginia Avenue.
The City Council will take up the proposed rate hikes at its meeting January 28.
For more information about the proposed water and waste water rates, visit santamonica.gov/waterrates.
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