Utility rate increase eyed

By Seth Schmidt

Public hearings are planned August 28, to consider rate increases for Tracy water and sewer users.
The proposed changes would impose a 25% increase in the base water service rate, and a 40% increase on the base rate for sewer. Additionally, per unit volume rates would increase 20 cents on water and 40 cents on the sewer.
However, a utility surcharge would decrease from $12 a month to $8.
If the council moves ahead with the changes after the hearings, the new rates could go into effect for September. The first time consumers would pay the increased rates would be for November statements.
The utility increases would be the City of Tracy’s first since 2011, and are designed to address projected revenue shortfalls.
The changes are projected to increase annual water revenues from $395,000 to $456,476. Sewer revenues would increase from $417,000 to $591,912.
Calculations by City Administrator Madonna Peterson show the impact on users. A family using 2,000 gallons of water would have their city utility bill increase from $70.45 a month to $78.71. A family using 13,000 gallons a month would see an increase from $106.64 to $122.82. All figures include a monthly $11.66 solid waste disposal charge.
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The council will also host a public hearing on a change designed to create a fairer way of determining sewer rates.
According to current ordinance, sewer rates are based on the average monthly water usage during January, February, and March. The proposed change would use water usage during March, April, September, and October.
Peterson reported that under the current policy, significant numbers of “snow birds” pay no monthly sewer charge, because they don’t have water usage during January through March. Some other city utility customers who don’t have automatically read meters, she indicated, are taking advantage of the loophole by not reporting any water usage for those months.
About 56 of the city’s 983 water customers are currently not paying any sewer charge, the city administrator reports.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.