The City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 3 to discuss the new rate structure and proposed rates for water and wastewater. The notice of the public hearing was scheduled to be mailed no later than Friday, Jan. 17. To comply with rules of Prop 218 (passed by California voters in 1996), the city is required to provide written notice by mail of the proposed fee or charge at least 45 days prior to the public hearing.
All of the city’s active accounts (water, wastewater and recycled water customers) were compiled for the mailing list to receive the notice. This list includes 13,355 “owners” of the accounts, which is the individual who applied for and is responsible for the services provided. InfoSend (the company mails the city’s water, wastewater and recycled water bills) mails the notices with the database of active accounts. Account holders who receive and pay their bill electronically will receive a written notice via mail as required by law. Mailing information is captured for all accounts when an individual first applies for service.
When the City Council set the public hearing date for the new rate structure and proposed rates for water and wastewater at the January 7 meeting, typically that’s one of the first steps in a process to inform water and wastewater customers and provide a process for input. However, this year it was a culmination of work that started at the January 2019 rates hearing. At that time, City Council expressed an interest in seeing a new “cost of service” study to ensure the city’s rate structure not only complied with the law and ensured financial stability, but that each class of rate payers was paying their proportionate share of the water and wastewater costs.
As part of the rate study, the City hosted two public workshops (Oct. 15 and Nov. 19) and presented multiple design rate options for Council consideration and public input. New rate structures were selected, and a two-year rate setting model was introduced. The two-year period is short enough to allow rate changes if future projections are different than anticipated while also reducing the administrative costs of adopting new rates.