There has been some misunderstanding in the community about what is driving the need to increase San Luis Obispo water rates by 10 percent for the 2011-’12 fiscal year.
It is true that there has been an unprecedented drop in water usage that led to a large decline in revenue. However, that did not result in a decision to seek a 10 percent rate hike, which had been planned for some time.
Back in 2009, it was anticipated that a 10 percent rate increase would be needed in 2011-’12 to pay for capital improvement projects like the replacement of the pump station that brings us water from Margarita Lake, the installation of technology to improve monitoring of water levels in the storage reservoirs all across town and the replacement of pipelines.
In addition, rate increases were projected to pay for the operation of the Nacimiento water supply project and the associated debt payment for that project.
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When it became apparent that the decrease in water usage would result in a drop in revenue, we chose to reduce expenditures rather than increase rates to levels higher than the 10 percent projected in 2009. This decision was made in recognition of the fiscal challenges facing many of our community members.
For instance, our employees have made concessions that reduce pay and benefits, and we anticipate more to come. We continue searching for ways to be ever more efficient and minimize cost increases, especially in the areas of energy and chemical use.
Despite recent reductions in staff levels, we strive to maintain the high level of service to the community that it has come to expect.
Our response to lower revenues should make sense to our rate payers.
I encourage the public to give us a call at the Utilities Department at 781-7215 with questions, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know us and visit your Utilities Department during one of the open houses we’re holding on May 17, 24, 31 and June 7 between 5 and 7 p.m. These meetings will be held at 879 Morro St.
Ask us any questions you would like regarding your water or sewer services. We want anyone who has questions about our services to better understand the facts about their water bill and get to know those of us who provide you with a vital resource that you depend on every day.
Carrie Mattingly is utilities director for the City of San Luis Obispo.