The city of Atascadero is proposing to increase wastewater rates for all property owners connected to the municipal sewer system
At the May 14 City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved six steps to begin the process of increasing the rates, which would go into effect Aug. 8. The sewer service charges have only been adjusted twice since 1982.
Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno said the city has done a good job of not raising the rates in 25 years.
"But here we are at the place where we're needing to do this, and I think at least those few of you that are here and hopefully those of you that are watching and listening are understanding the need for this if we're going to be good stewards of the wastewater and have this working for decades into the future," Moreno said during the meeting.
According to a staff report, wastewater collection and treatment system customers are made up of roughly 5,000 parcels that include residential, commercial, and light industrial.
Tuckfield & Associates, an independent financial consultant, completed a comprehensive wastewater rate study for the city and recommended increasing the current monthly sewer service charge per single-family residence by $3.83 for a total monthly rate of $24.01 for the 2019-20 fiscal year—a 19 percent increase.
The study stated that the increase was a result of the rising treatment and energy costs, impacts of regulation and legislation, past and continued critical upgrades, and/or replacement of wastewater facilities and infrastructure.
The council approved a budget amendment and authorization of the director of administrative services to appropriate $5,000 from the wastewater fund for costs related to the Proposition 218 protest process. Council members also approved allocating an additional $15,000 from the fund for professional services related to the wastewater rate study and support activities.
Atascadero residents will have a chance to protest the increase in writing after they receive the Proposition 218 notices, which the city will mail out by May 24. The community has until the July 9 public hearing to submit protests, and the city will then decide whether to approve the increase.