Grover Beach may phase in increased water rates

The Grover Beach City Council will again discuss water rates tonight, but instead of a single 30 percent rate increase, customers could see the raise phased in over the next year.

City officials say the increase is needed in large part to pay for the city’s share of $26 million in upgrades at the Lopez Lake reservoir.

The city, which receives 36 percent of its water supply from the lake east of Arroyo Grande, will pay the county $1.2 million this fiscal year for the upgrades.

When it last met, on June 21, the council had considered a 30 percent increase that would have taken effect this month, plus a 2 percent increase in July 2011.

But the city had received 71 written protests to the rate hikes. So the council told city staff to come back with a phased approach to the water rates.

Under the revised proposal, water rates would rise 15 percent Aug. 1 and another 15 percent March 1.The city must borrow about $380,000 from two separate funds to replenish the money in its water fund and meet its obligations.

“If it wasn’t for the Lopez costs we wouldn’t have had to raise rates,” Administrative Services Director Gayla Chapman said.

If approved, customers who have a 1-inch meter and using 22 units of water in a two-month period would see the bimonthly water portion of the bill increase to $83.06 from $65.30, or by $8.80 a month.Under the previous proposal, the rates would have increased to $94, or by $14.35 a month.

The consultant who prepared the initial water rates report also added a 4 percent “cost of living” raise, which would have gone to employees who are members of the Services Employees International Union and those eligible for an increase in pay at their annual review, Chapman said.

The council at its June 21 meeting directed staff to remove that raise.

Water rate increase vote

The Grover Beach City Council will discuss proposed water rate increases when it meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at 154 S. Eighth St. For information, call 473-4567 or visit www.grover.org.