Residents can protest rate hike

Water and sewer customers will soon receive a letter from the city detailing proposed rate increases for the next five years. Property owners and ratepayers have the opportunity to oppose the increases in writing by the May 26 protest hearing.

The bi-monthly fixed charged for a typical single-family residence is proposed to increase from $34.16 to $37.10 next year, and the unit price of water is proposed to increase from $2.60 to $2.68.

If a majority of customers are opposed, the rates will not be adopted. However, if fewer than 900 protests are submitted, the city council will approve the new rates that would go into effect July 1, as permitted by Proposition 218.

A hearing is set for May 26 at 6 p.m. at the Del Mar Communications Center.

Protests must be received by then and must include the protestor’s signature, name, address of site served, and whether they are the property owner, ratepayer or both. Protests must be hand-delivered or mailed to Del Mar City Clerk, 1050 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014. E-mail protests will not be accepted.

The proposal calls for sewer rates to increase 8 percent next year, and then gradually taper down to a 2 percent increase by 2013. The rate each year is based on the prior year’s rate.

Water rates would increase between 6 percent and 7 percent annually from 2009 to 2014.

The hike would cover more costly water, infrastructure operation and maintenance, administrative costs and inflation.

The formula used to calculate the rates is not changing much and includes a fixed charge based on the size of the customer’s water meter, plus a charge per unit of water used.

The price of water increases over three tiers, meaning the more water a customer uses, the more expensive it becomes.

Along with the regular water rates, a separate price structure for drought conditions is also up for approval.

Under the drought water rate structure, water starts out at the same price as the regular schedule. However, users will be allotted a smaller amount of water at the first-tier price, which will be based on 90 percent of their average monthly winter consumption in the prior year.

The price for the second and third tiers jumps 70 and 110 percent, respectively, to encourage water conservation and cover any fines the city is charged for exceeding its mandatory cutback, which is expected this summer.

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