A water rate hike will likely be approved on Tuesday, as the Turlock City Council is set to consider the results of the ongoing election to authorize a proposed increase.
Over the next five years water rates would, approximately, double for most consumers.
Rates would increase 12 percent for the average single-family household on July 1. Rates would then go up a further 15 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. Additional increases would come every Jan. 1 thereafter through 2019, of 7 percent, 15 percent, 11 percent, and 11 percent, respectively.
Other customers would see roughly similar rate increases over time, though commercial accounts would see a sharper increase in year one, and industrial, institutional, and landscape accounts would see a decrease on their first bills following the change.
The rate increase would come with a change in rate structures. Customers would still pay a rate per gallon used, but about 70 percent of monthly bills would be charged in the form of a capacity charge, based on the size of one’s connection to the water main, and a customer charge.
According to the City of Turlock, the rate increase will ensure that the city can continue to maintain and operate its water system. The city is currently spending more on water service than it takes in, to the tune of more than $500,000 annually.
The rate increase would also allow for needed future improvements. The city will likely need to invest in future capital projects like wellhead treatment to ensure Turlock’s drinking water remains safe. However, the rates proposed would not fund an oft-discussed Surface Water Treatment Facility, which would treat Tuolumne River water to create a sustainable source of Turlock drinking water.
The Turlock City Council gave its initial approval to a rate increase in December 2013, commencing with a Proposition 218 election.
The Proposition 218 election mailed ballots to all affected property owners on Jan. 29. Those property owners have until Tuesday to voice their concern with the rate increase.
In order for the water rate increase to be prevented, more than 50 percent of the roughly 18,500 account holders contacted would need to mail back their ballots and indicate that they are protesting the rate increase. As of Feb. 19, when sparsely-attended workshops on the rate increase were held, roughly 400 ballots had been received; 8,771 protest votes are needed to prevent the rate increase.
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is also expected to:
- Receive the 2013 Police Annual Report.
- Consider combining the Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission and the Turlock City Arts Commission into a single commission. The combined commission would consist of nine members from the existing commissions.
- The Arts Commission has floundered for years, since losing a dedicated city staff member. The commission routinely fails to make quorum, as members do not attend meetings; only three members remain on what should be a nine-member board.
- Create a new position for a Public Safety Business Analyst. The new position is necessary, staff say, due to an impending reorganization of Turlock’s police and fire departments. The employee would perform functions currently being performed by a police captain. Following the proposed reorganization, the Turlock Police Department would drop from three captains to two captains. The employee would be paid between $3,898 and $4,739 monthly. The position will replace a police secretary position, which will be vacated through retirement on April 18.
The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.