Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Customers Have Less than a Week to Object to County Water Rate Hikes

• Waterworks District Fees Have Convoluted Approval Process

BY BILL KOENEKER

Customers who object to rate increases sought by Los Angeles County Waterworks District 29, have to either write to the water district or appear in person before the county Board of Supervisors, to voice disapproval of the new charges and try to prevent. their implementation.
The supervisors act as the governing body of the water district for the consideration of water rate hikes recommended for the district that provides service to Malibu and Topanga.
Written objections must be received prior to the conclusion of the board’s public hearing, according to a letter sent to ratepayers, who may send comments or protests to Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29, 900 South Fremont Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91803.
Rate increase action is scheduled for the regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 9:30 a.m. in the board of supervisors hearing room, Room 381B, in the Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles.
At the public hearing, the supervisors will consider all protests against the proposed fee. If written protests against the fee are presented by a majority of owners of parcels receiving service, the waterworks district will not impose the fee, according to the ratepayer letter.
Some District 29 customers have expressed frustration on how the county measures citizen approval or disapproval of a rate hike proposal.
“They make it as difficult as possible because everyone has to write a letter protesting the increase to make a 51 percent majority against the fee, not for it” said one irate ratepayer.
Written protests must be submitted to the board by a majority of owners of parcels.
The proposed rate plan calls for a 5.4 percent annual increase for the first two years and 5.2 percent annually for the succeeding three years, according to the notice sent to customers.
Revenues generated from the rate increase, according to district officials, will be used to close a gap between revenues and expenditures, build a 90-day cash reserve, fund annual infrastructure projects, and offset a portion of asset depreciation.
Ratepayers are being told the proposed rate increases will result in an average annual revenue increase of $796,000 for operations and maintenance and another $123,000 for capital infrastructure activities, for a total increase of $4.6 million over five years, according to the district.
“During the first year, the average single-family home using 73 hundred cubic feet bi-monthly will experience an approximately $21 increase on their bi-monthly water bill.
 Similar increases would occur each year thereafter,” the notice informs ratepayers.
District officials indicate the average bi-monthly bill would increase from $398 in 2012 to $515 by 2017.
A public notice states that additional information on the water rates, the proposed increase or for any other information regarding this matter, is available by contacting 626-300-3331.

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