At Tuesday night's City Council Workshop meeting, council decided to proceed with the proposed water and sewer rate increases. A public notice will be prepared and mailed to residents advising of a public hearing to adopt the new rates. The City's next meeting on this will be a hearing on December 15th at 7:00 pm at the City Council Chambers.
The proposed water and sewer rates are:
- 7.75% increase in the Water Commodity rate to $4.60 per unit (748 gallons) and $6.56 per unit for those using more than 200 units
- $0.75 per unit "Drought Recovery" water surcharge, effectively making the rate $5.35 per unit up from the current $4.27 per unit
- 8.75% increase in Water Meter Charge
- 7.5% increase in Sewer Use rate
- 8.75% increase in the Sewer Service Charge
At the workshop meeting, the GVCA asked council to:
- Review how the City can better scale its water operations and capital improvements in light of the "new" normal water demand to reduce its operating costs and lessen rate increases year after year.
- Assess if pass-through costs from other agencies are justified.
- Have staff prepare an action plan for Poway to push back against these pass-through increases and join forces with other cities facing the same issue.
- Consider if the "Drought Recovery" surcharge is appropriate.
- Ensure that the Drought Recovery surcharge not become a permanent fee.
While Council considered our questions, they concluded that with the "new" normal water use Powegians will not see large increases in their bills since residents are using on average 36% less water. Council members were unanimous in their decision to include a sunset clause on the Drought Recovery surcharge to officially end in December 2018. We continue to encourage Council to push for new solutions for affordable and sustainable water and sewer service in the face of rising pass-through costs and water use restrictions from Sacramento.
Noted below is the City of Poway water commodity cost per unit over the last 16 years. In the year 2000 water was $1.76 per unit compared to $5.35 per unit in 2016, a 7.2% annual rate of increase. Today's inflation adjusted rate would be about $2.56 per unit.