Water rates for city utility payers are going to increase. That is a given. The city has begun the Proposition 218 process, required to make any modifications in the water rate.
How soon a public hearing will take place to consider the increase is still in question. The city council May 24 approved an item authorizing a notice of public hearing regarding the proposed increase. The public notice states that the hearing is to be held July 19.
The law requires notifications to be sent out at least 45 days before the hearing. All local parcel owners and rate payers should receive such notifications. As of Tuesday, those notifications were not in the mail.
That closes the window for the public hearing to be held July 19. To allow 45 days from notification for protests, the public hearing must be held no sooner than July 21. It now appears the public hearing will be much later than that.
A Proposition 218 report given to the council at the May 24 session called for a proposed schedule of asking for the notice during that meeting, sending notices to the public by June 1, continuing efforts to refinance the city’s water bond, preparing for the July 19 public hearing and implementing the new water rate structure by Aug. 1.
However, this week, the city had to make changes to the cost allocations. The Prop 218 notice and presentation will go back to the city council for consideration, possibly on June 28, but more likely on July 12. Then the 45-day countdown will begin anew.
According to Proposition, if more than 50 percent of all water users protest the water rate increase in writing,, the city cannot increase the rates. Actions required by water users to make such protests are required to be spelled out in the notification.