Templeton's sewer rates are due to increase significantly at the end of the year in order to offset deficits and costly changes to how its sewage is treated.
The Templeton Community Services District sends its sewage to the city of Paso Robles. But now that Paso Robles is upgrading its sewer, Templeton must share in 9 percent of the bill. That will cost the small North County community an estimated $4.8 million — about $240,000 annually — through 2036.
Paso’s sewage treatment plant upgrade will cost $47 million. Construction started in April and is due to be complete in October 2015. Templeton doesn’t have to start its debt payments to Paso until 2016, according to the city.
The new revenue in Templeton will also help the district balance its sewer account, which has been running at a deficit for the last few years because of low rates, officials said. For example, in fiscal year 2013-14, rates brought in $750,000 but operating expenses were about $1 million.
“Basically we’re bringing in 35 cents for every dollar we spend,” said General Manager Jeff Briltz, who started his job in June.
The new rates will go before a public hearing on Oct. 15 for final approval. The public can send in protest letters until then. Under voter-approved Proposition 218, increasing sewer rates involves a process that sets a public hearing date and establishes a protest process. If a majority of customers send in protest votes, the increase cannot go forward.
If the new fees are approved, they would go into effect Nov. 22 and show up on bills at the end of December.
Under the new rate structure, the monthly bills for Templeton’s residential, commercial and industrial users would go from a $23.34 flat rate to a $31.21 flat rate — a 33.7 percent increase. Those base rates are then expected to grow to $43.82 by 2017.
Rates for commercial and industrial users are more complex. Monthly rates cover the first 300 cubic feet of sewage discharged. One cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons. After that, they’re charged an extra sum for every 100 cubic foot discharged. The new structure would increase that sum from the current $2 to $4.07 for every 100 cubic foot discharged. The extra charge is then expected to grow to $7.02 by 2017.
“The increases to commercial and industrial users are highly dependent on their volume,” Briltz said. Restaurants, for example, are expected to generate more sewage than small offices.