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August 5, 2014
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Tahoe City PUD proposing 5-year rate increase to fund upgrades

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The Tahoe City Public Utility District wants to establish a five-year rate increase for water and sewer customers to help fund capital replacement projects.

The maximum increase for sewer rates would be 5.7 percent annually over the next five years, while water rates would go up to achieve a 6 percent annual increase in revenue during that time period.

A typical residential water customer pays about $72.16 a month, while residential sewer customers pay $36.34 a month. Those rates would rise to $96.57 and $47.93 in 2019, respectively.

The proposed rates are the maximum that can be implemented during the next five years, according to the PUD.

“I ... implore you to not raise the rates anywhere near that level,” Tahoe City resident Roger Kahn said at the July 18 TCPUD board meeting. “The average person, if they have to pay 5 or 6 percent more (annually) in sewer and water rates, that’s a real significant amount of money.”

By securing grant funds and controlling operating costs, TCPUD has been able to keep past rate projections lower, officials said.

The five-year rate plan passed in 2009 projected residential water customers would be paying $91.10, and sewer customers $47.93 in 2013. Under this proposal, those figures wouldn’t be reached until 2018 and 2019, respectively.

“The board has demonstrated its commitment to carefully managing costs, keeping rates below those authorized and minimizing debt, if at all possible,” board president Dan Wilkins said in a statement. “This plan continues our responsibility to the public to reinvest, replace and modernize their older infrastructure.”

Over the next five years, $22.6 million and $12.3 million in water and sewer projects are planned, said TCPUD General Manager Cindy Gustafson.

The rate plan, if approved, would support $7.5 million and $8.4 million in water and sewer projects. Other potential funding sources include property taxes, grants, reserves and borrowing, if needed.

The district’s water system is about 36 years old, and the sewer system is about 44 years old, according to the PUD.

“They’re starting to get toward the middle to end of their useful life, and I think as we all realize that there’s a lot of infrastructure in the ground to replace at some point in time,” West Shore resident John Pang said at the July 18 meeting. “… I’d rather start paying for it slowly now than wait for one huge assessment in five years or in 10 years, or whenever.”

The complete rate schedule will be mailed out later this month, allowing customers the opportunity to support or protest as part of Proposition 218, which governs how local agencies can set new or increased assessments.

The PUD serves 4,188 water customers and 7,540 sewer customers. For each rate increase, if more than 50 percent of customers protest, it would be rejected, Gustafson said.

A final public hearing will be held Oct. 17.

If approved, the new schedule will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, Gustafson said.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 5, 2014 06:48PM Published Aug 5, 2014 09:24AM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.