District approves water, sewer rate hikes

By Karen Brainard

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Water rates will increase by just under 3 percent July 1, while sewer rates will rise by 3 percent for San Vicente plant customers and by 6 percent for those served by the Santa Maria plant.

The Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors approved the new rates by a 3-0 vote with Director Rex Schildhouse opposing and Director Kit Kesinger absent. The district's $36 million fiscal year 2014-15 budget was approved 4-0. The June 24 votes followed a public hearing that day that drew 10 people and a June 23 evening public budget presentation that attracted three residents.

In presenting the proposed rates Monday night, RMWD Financial Services Director Richard Hannasch said, "We're very pleased this is much more of a moderate adjustment than we've seen over the past several years."

Combined with the electrical charge to pump water from the Poway Pump Station, general treated water will increase 2.5 percent, from $5.51 to $5.65 per unit. A unit of water is about 748 gallons. Untreated water will see a 2.7 percent increase. Agricultural customers in the TSAWR discount program will be charged 2.7 percent more for treated water and 2.9 percent for untreated water.

The monthly water service fee, charged by meter size, will rise 2.9 percent.

Using the scenario that an average family consumes 14 units of water every month, Hannasch said the increase would amount to about 6 cents per day or $1.79 per month.

For customers of the San Vicente sewer plant, the 3 percent change means the annual charge will rise from $605.30 to $623.76. For Santa Maria customers, the yearly amount will go from $637.22 to $675.77. Capital replacement project funds in the new budget include $1.8 million for Santa Maria and $834,000 for San Vicente.

Hannasch explained that the district was able to adjust the initially proposed not-to-exceed 6 percent water rate hike after receiving notice from the San Diego County Water Authority in May that its rates were going up less than anticipated. The water authority, Ramona's sole water supplier, has proposed rate increases of about 3 percent.

"It's a significant achievement to hold the line as much as possible for our customers," Hannasch said.

   
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