Water rates up 7.8 percent, sewer up 3 percent

By Karen Brainard

Customers of the Ramona Municipal Water District will see an increase in water and sewer rates, beginning July 1, that are slightly less than those proposed in May.

Treated water rates will increase 7.8 percent and sewer rates 3 percent.

The water board approved the rate increases and its fiscal year 2012-13 $28 million budget on June 26, following a public hearing. The district received five letters and one person spoke at the hearing, all in protest of rate increases.

Customers will see treated water climb from 3.86 per unit to $4.34 per unit. A unit is about 748 gallons of water. With an average household estimated at using 14 units of water, the monthly increase would be $4.63, said RMWD Finance Manager Richard Hannasch.

“Water staff has closely examined budget expenditures for further savings and we’re pleased to announce that the proposed water rates for the upcoming budget are even lower than the amounts that were proposed May 8,” Hannasch told the board.

RMWD sent out Proposition 218 notices, required by state law, to customers with not-to-exceed rates 45 days before the public hearing. The notice showed a proposed 3.5 percent increase for sewer rates and 8.4 percent rise for treated water rates.

The untreated water rate was proposed to go up 8.3 percent but the board approved a 7.6 percent increase. That charge will climb from $3.31 to $3.74 per unit.

Agriculture customers in the Metropolitan Water District’s discount Interruptible Agricultural Water Program (IAWP) will see increases of 2.5 percent for treated water and .8 percent for untreated. In the San Diego County Water Authority’s Special Agriculture Water Rate (SAWR) program, treated water will go up .9 percent, untreated will decrease .3 percent.

Included in the water rates is the electrical charge to pump the water up from the RMWD Poway pump station. That fee is decreasing from 77 cents per unit of water to 65 cents. RMWD General Manager David Barnum said that is due to declining water sales, which means less pumping.

The water service charge is increasing by 8.7 percent for all meter sizes.

Hannasch said during that the current fiscal year the county water authority’s water rate rose 11.9 percent for treated water and 12.8 percent for untreated water. RMWD purchases all of its water from the water authority.

The annual sewer fee for San Vicente wastewater plant customers will rise from $562.15 to $579.02; for Santa Maria customers, the rate will go from $591.79 to $609.55.

Hannash presented the 2012-13 budget with projected expenditures of $28 million, pointing out that it is less than last year’s budgeted expenditures of $28.3 million.

“Keep in mind that inflation in San Diego in 2011 was almost 3 percent,” said Hannasch.

Included in the 2012-13 budget is $100,000 of property taxes to be used for Poway Pump Station upgrades and $500,000 of property tax revenues earmarked for pipeline relocation for the county’s San Vicente Road realignment project. The water district’s total cost to relocate the pipeline is estimated at $4 million.

RMWD will save money by aligning the project with the county’s contract, said the finance manager.

“But make no mistake, this is a pretty significant project for the district. If we’re looking at about $4 million, depending on what the exact cost is and what kind of financing we look at, if debt service runs around $500,000 a year, that’s significant and it absolutely could affect future water rate increases that would be required to fund that project,” said Hannasch.

The pipeline along San Vicente Road is the sole source of water to San Diego Country Estates. State law in 1973 allowed the pipeline to be installed within county right of way with the caveat that RMWD must pay to relocate it when road improvements are made.

The county’s estimated construction start date is in the third quarter of 2013, according to Hannasch.

“A significant but shrinking source of revenue for the district is property taxes,” noted Hannasch.

Property tax revenues for the district in fiscal year 2008-09 was $5.3 million, and they have been declining. For 2011-12, they are expected to total $4.6 million and are forecast to be $4.15 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year, said Hannasch.

Barnum noted that this is the fourth year of belt tightening by the district.

“That is not by accident. That is by design,” he said.

In 2008, when he was the district’s chief financial officer, Barnum said he and staff discussed the “changing world.”

The year 2008, he said, “was an apocalypse of finances.” Part of the plan was to cut costs while providing the best possible service to customers, said Barnum, noting cost-cutting measures included staff reduction and reorganization, deferring some capital projects and “thinking outside the box.”

Related posts:

  1. RMWD plans water, sewer rate hikes
  2. Water district’s public hearing on rates scheduled for Tuesday
  3. Ramona water district to hold public rates hearing Tuesday
  4. Board considers 12% water, sewer hikes
  5. District holds steady on water rates, proposes other increases

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=15229

Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jun 28 2012. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

14 Comments for “Water rates up 7.8 percent, sewer up 3 percent”

  1. Susan

    I’m so tired of being water and sewer customer. These dolts waste so much money and then raise rates every time you turn around. I hope the current mismanagement will end after the elections in November.

    • Eugene

      Where's the waste? Do tell! What's your expertise to make such a statement? I just have to laugh at comments from schmucks like you when you do not know a thing about what really goes on.

      • Guest

        How about $360,000 per year to haul brine out of Ramona? How about doing new studies for Santa Maria that were already done 7 years ago? How about the legal bills that didn't exist prior to hiring a meter reader as a General Manager? How about spending $300,000+ on a water treatment plant only to cancel it for no reason? How about charging sewer fees that have no basis? I suspect Eugene is the one who doesn't know what really goes on. That seems to be a prerequesite running the RMWD. I know how I'll vote in November.

        • Guest 2

          Careful Phillip you're becoming too obvious. One reason your no longer employed at RMWD. I know you'll deny it being Phillip but many of us know it is. Funny you know how you'll vote yet you are not an RMWD customer. Why don't you go pay for a meter and connect then I would say your vote may be worth something.

          • Guest

            He, he he. . . What's nice is you have an entire agency filled with employees that are disguisted with the cronyism and waste of their money and you can't guess who the right person is Ralph. Next guess?

          • Guest 2

            Next guess for you. Not Ralph either even though I do know him and maybe I can talk him into responding to you. You are such a fool!

  2. Guest - TT

    I am also sick and tired of the Ramona Water District….they keep raising rates but NOTHING gets done at the district except the pay and pension goes up for all who work there. REALLY what is going on. I hope they vote them all out and get someone who knows wth they are doing in there.

  3. Guest

    If you ask RMWD employees, they hate being customers also and they actually see the waste that goes on. They aren't allowed to talk to the Board though.

    • Guest 2

      Phillip you know that's a crock! Also explain fully why employees and the board aren't allowed to talk about certain things, not everything. Common Phillip do tell.

  4. Guest

    Ohh, maybe a redefined and fictitious Policy 1 instituted by the former GM. Maybe the Board would like to put a suggestion box out for us to tell them what's really going on so they aren't in the dark. Make sure the key is held by the Board President. We wouldn't want David to redact what is written about the "Bermuda Triangle" like he redacts Board meeting minutes.

    • J James

      Should probably get your facts straight before posting, Guest. Policy 1 was not instituted by "the former GM," but was instituted well over 20 years ago by Board officials (Krysak & Wilsman to be precise). As for Board meeting minutes, they are not intended to read like a novel, regardless what your opinion might be. Professional minutes should be concise and reflect Board action. As for the suggestion box, why in the world would the Board want to hear from two former disgruntled employees? Time to move on with your lives, don't you think?

      • Guest

        No, the "redefined" version of Policy 1 was when the former GM told everyone on staff not to talk to the Board (ever) using the Grand Jury investigation an excuse. I'm sure everyone on staff still has the email. This has continued with the current GM and isn't consistent with what Policy 1 actually says. It's their way of controlling what the Board hears and they're being filled with bunch of hogwash. Just ask any department at the RMWD.

        With respect to the Board meeting minutes, it has nothing to do with reading like a novel. Your GM deliberately removes people and events from the public record and has gone as far as changing Board decisions knowing that none of the Board members ever read the minutes.

        As far as the two "disgruntled employees", last I heard, they were both doing well and happy to be gone from the RMWD. The rest of us are stuck with immoral, incompetent, and dishonest people running the organization. We're all hoping November will change things.

        • Elmira

          Well if these responses aren't from two former disgruntled employees then it sounds like some current disgruntled employees who should possibly join the other two! How domyou get away with chastising your current board this way let alone your immediate boss. If your so disgruntled then move the hell on. I'm sure there are many other people who are more competent who would love to have a job right now. There is absolutely no sympathy for you from the public. If you think there is you need a reality check, and soon.

          Let's see. You want a new board so they may side with you. I wouldn't think so. Maybe they should find out who these insubordinates are and ask to have there jobs.

          I believe I've heard labor negotiations are about to or have already started. I would suggest that the board/management look at a performance based incentive or maybe even a managed competition for these yucks to even keep their jobs.

          People. RMWD has many excellent employees. Don't let a few bad apples taint the whole organization like these clowns want you to think.

  5. Molly

    Ralph, everyone is laughing at you.

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