Water Rate Increase, Centennial Park Renaming on Council Agenda

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Turlockers could see significant increases to their water rates and the renaming of a landmark park, following tonight's Turlock City Council meeting.

The water rate discussion will see the council consider moving forward with a Proposition 218 ballot, the first step toward a series of water rate increases.

Per a staff report, the typical single-family home would pay a monthly water bill of $28.85 in 2015, rising to $42.40 in 2018 and $71.50 in 2023. The first rate increase would likely occur July 1, 2014, with additional rate increases scheduled through 2018.

The suggested rate increases would only fund Turlock's existing groundwater pumping system – not the creation of a proposed surface water treatment plant. The water fund is currently operating at a deficit, and additional capital is needed to fund groundwater treatment efforts to meet increasingly stringent state water laws.

Should the surface water project proceed, a second Proposition 218 ballot would be required in as little as two years, and rates would rise even further. By 2023, rates would be $12.45 more per month with surface water than with groundwater alone.

The Proposition 218 process allows property owners to protest the rate increase by mail. If more than 50 percent of all affected parcels object to the rate increase, it will not occur.

The Turlock City Council will also consider renaming Centennial Park to Centennial-Swanson Park, accepting a $35,000 donation from the Swanson family to construct a dog park at the site.

The renaming has been controversial, as Centennial Park was named to recognize the City of Turlock's 100th anniversary. Also, many donors contributed to make Centennial Park a reality.

Several other potential dog park donors came forward, offering to build the dog park without asking for Centennial Park to be renamed, but say that the City of Turlock ignored their offers.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is scheduled to:
• Consider extending a moratorium on new food trucks in Downtown Turlock for 10 months and 15 days.
• Formalize the creation of a City/County Liaison Committee, comprised of two members of the Turlock City Council and two members of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. The committee is intended to “forge a stronger working relationship between both entities.”
• Appropriate $225,000 to the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Project, an initiative intended to sell treated Turlock wastewater to water-starved farmers on the county's westside. The money would be used to secure the city's right to sell its water.
• Consider the 2014 budget for the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau. The budget calls for a $10,000 reduction in program spending to fund the creation of a new paid intern position.
• Recognize the retirement of four City of Turlock employees: Larry Chalupnik, Fire Captain, Patricia Panos, Police Evidence & Property Specialist II, Jeff Lopes, Police Captain, and Joel Carter, Building Inspector II.
• Issue a proclamation in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ghadar Party, an organization founded by Punjabi Indians to liberate India from British rule.
• Appoint members to the Parks, Recreation, and Community Commission.
• Hear a special briefing from the California State University, Stanislaus Associated Students Inc.
• Hear a regular update on capital projects and building activity.
• Issue liens on a number of properties for the abatement of weeds, obnoxious growth, debris, and abandoned vehicles.
• In closed session, discuss one case of anticipated litigation.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.

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