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Water Rates Go Public
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Escalon residents will have a chance Monday night to voice their opinion and their support or disapproval of, proposed new water rates for the city.

Based on the need to help the city department become self-sustaining, and because the city has not increased rates for its water service fees since 1996, the changes have been proposed.

If approved, increases will take effect May 1 of this year with subsequent raises on March 1 every year from 2016 to 2019.

City Manager Tammy Alcantor said the goal is to bring the rates up to where they should be to help keep the department going without having to tap into other city funding sources, but with the phased in hikes, it hopefully will be easier for residents to afford as opposed to one large increase.

The public hearing on the proposed water rate increases is scheduled as part of the city council meeting on Monday, March 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is in the City Council Chambers, 2060 McHenry Ave.

A report provided by consultants working with the city on the proposed new fee structure noted that the city “makes every effort to provide its customers with water in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.” But rates need to be raised to fund the water system so it can be operated safely, to put aside money for future water supply projects, to allow for timely maintenance of the facilities and establish a small reserve ‘emergency’ fund for unexpected costs.

The city can only enact the increase if a majority of residents do not oppose them, said Alcantor. Protests to the proposed increase must be in writing, submitted to the City Clerk at the McHenry Avenue location or in person at the public hearing.

The proposed rates include a fixed bi-monthly charge and a variable use charge, based on water consumption. Consultants and Alcantor agreed the proposed rates “better reflect customer usage patterns and cost of service” in the city. It has also been modified to ensure accuracy for account billing and encourage water efficiency. A typical single family home would see its bill increase from $45.50 in 2014 to $61.11 in 2015 under the proposed new water rates.