Atascadero water hike sought

Atascadero residents will soon be asked to pay more for their water.

The board of directors of the Atascadero Mutual Water Company is slated to discuss an 8 percent increase in water rates at its Nov. 18 meeting. If approved, the new rates will take effect in January.

Company officials say the rate increase is necessary to pay for ongoing and future expenses.

Under the proposed rate increase, the average customer’s water bill will increase to $48.50 from $45.70, based on an average monthly use of 18,000 gallons. Customers who use higher volumes of water will see a larger percentage of increase. A similar increase is expected next year.

The increase is in addition to an 8 percent net increase in 2008 and 2009. In all, water users will pay a 36 percent increase over a four-year period ending in 2011.

The 8 percent rate increase for two consecutive years will increase the company’s revenue by $498,000 annually.

The additional revenue will be used to reduce capital debt, maintain adequate working capital, help pay for capital improvement projects and help mitigate the impact on future water rates, according to John Neil, general manager of the Atascadero Mutual Water Company.

Future capital projects include a water treatment facility planned to be built in 2021.

Water rates are anticipated to go up 4 percent from years 2012 through 2020 with a 15 percent increase in 2021 to aid construction of the water treatment facility. Those increases will be based on inflation.

Neil is also proposing to lower connection fees for second housing units and apartment units. The new fees would lower the connection fee for secondary residential units to $12,740 from $19,600 and for apartment units to $10,780 from $13,720.

Neil said that connection fee revenue can be used only for the development of new water resources, not operations, maintenance and capital improvements, and are based on the impact a development or new user will have on water resources.

Water rate increases are necessary, he said, because they fund operations, maintenance and capital improvements.

Meeting next week

The Atascadero Mutual Water Company board of directors will meet at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at company offices at 5005 El Camino Real.