Water board agrees to sewer rate, fee study

By Karen Brainard

Ramona Municipal Water District directors have hired a firm to conduct a rate and fee study for the Santa Maria Sewer Service Area.

“Santa Maria has been an issue of cost for many years,” RMWD General Manager David Barnum said at the board’s Aug. 13 meeting.

Due to expansion needs, the district had planned a $34 million three-phased capital improvement project and, to help pay for that, charged a $20,000 sewer mitigation fee to new customers.

In January, the plant’s master facilities plan was downsized and the cost estimate decreased to $16 million following a study that showed less population growth than originally projected and that an overflow in 2005 was probably due to stormwater infiltration.

The board awarded the rate and fee study contract, projected to cost around $35,000, to Bartle Wells Associates.  Barnum said the district had received four bids and the study should be completed in about three months.

Bartle Wells Associates also will conduct a recycled water rate study, which is estimated to cost the district less than $15,000.

In other action:

•The board revised its Legislative Code to address assignment of sewer equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) for customers who have property split between the Santa Maria and San Vicente sewer plant boundaries. The issue will be considered on a case by case basis after staff evaluates the parcels and sewer capacity based on criteria added to the Legislative Code.

•The district fire mitigation fee multi-year facilities and equipment plan for fiscal year 2013-14, with annual revenues estimated at $53,000, was adopted by the water board. The county board of supervisors increased the fire mitigation fee, which is billed for new construction, from 46 cents to 47 cents per square foot.

•At an annual premium cost of $2,228, the board agreed to procure life insurance on the district’s general manager, water operations superintendent and wastewater operations superintendent. In the event of an accident or unexpected illness, the $250,000 policy on each manager is expected to provide the district with funds to fill the position.

   
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