TAHOE CITY, Calif. - Sewer and water consumption rates will increase for residential customers of the Tahoe City Public Utility District next year.
The TCPUD board of directors on Nov. 16 unanimously approved the district's 2013 budget, which includes a 9 percent sewer rate hike and varying increases to tiered water consumption rates for residents come April 1.
The current monthly sewer rate is $31.75, and that figure will increase by $2.86, according to the fees approved last Friday.
As for the tiered consumption rates, they will increase between 5 cents and $3.25 a month.
Tier 1, which factors the use of one to 8,000 gallons of water a month, will go from $1.40 to $1.45. Tier 2 - 8,001 to 20,000 gallons of water - will increase from $1.85 to $2.05. Tier 3 - 20,001 to 40,000 - will go from $2.35 to $3.65. Tier 4 - 40,001 and up - will increase from $5 to $8.25.
The additional revenue will be put aside for future capital improvement projects, according to the district. According to the 2013 budget, projected capital expenditures is $6.64 million, with $2.02 million of that coming from grant funding, and the rest coming from the district.
"I know it's a tough economy and there's people that do have issues," said Cindy Gustafson, district general manager, at the meeting. "With 7,500 customers, that does start to generate some real investment in our infrastructure.
"... We hear 'don't raise our rates,' but we're way ahead of schedule and we haven't raised the rates as much as we could have and said we would."
In accordance with Proposition 218 - passed by California voters in 1996 requiring local governments to have a vote on proposed new or increased assessments before they can be levied - a five-year rate program was approved in 2009 that established higher rates for 2013.
Based on the earlier approved rates, the sewer rate for 2013 could have been as high as $47.93 a month for residential customers, rather than the $34.61 approved last week.
"These are rolled back rates, so your fully implemented water rates and sewer rates would be much higher than they are today," Gustafson said. " ... The board has been rolling them back based on the current economy and on our needs."
The projected district revenue for the 2013 fiscal year is $13.21 million, with operating expenses estimated at $8.24 million, according to the budget.
The budgeted operating expenses have declined approximately 2.7 percent, or approximately $230,000, as a result of staff reductions, said Kelli Twomey, director of resource development and community relations, in a follow-up interview.
IT management has been replaced with contracted services from a local business, and one position in recreation has been eliminated through reorganization and some part-time help, she said. Meanwhile, district services are increasing, she said, by way of summer and winter operations of the Tahoe City Golf Course and maintenance for the new Lakeside Trail in Tahoe City.
"What we've come up with is a budget that you (the board) can be very proud of," Gustafson said. "I feel (it) is very defensible ... we're actually increasing services again at a reduced cost."