The Cambrian

Cambria CSD acknowledges problems with protest ballots for proposed rate hike

Cambria’s services district became the second agency in the county in two weeks to acknowledge problems with a Proposition 218 process to raise rates, try to fix them and move the public hearing date.

The new dates will give ratepayers and property owners the state-mandated 45 days between the mailing and the hearing to approve the new rates, a time period during which those people can protest, support or comment on the proposed rates.

Morro Bay administrators took steps July 20 to do all that for its $41-a-month increase in sewer rates to pay for a new $128.5 million wastewater plant. The city council is to approve those changes on Aug. 14.

The Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors made their moves in a special meeting Wednesday, a meeting recommended July 26 by district counsel Tim Carmel.

He had outlined three “potentially significant issues” with the notices:

• The date the notices were mailed.

• Who was included (and not included) on the mailing list.

• Not including in those notices a clear statement that ratepayers and property owners could protest the proposed increases in rates for the Sustainable Water Facility, separately or together with protests on the proposed rates for water service and sewage treatment.

“We just need to clear up the issues that have been raised, and make sure we get it right,” Carmel said.

After double checking the mailing list (since there were some glitches in the first mail-out), CCSD will then send the new notices to property owners and district customers on Aug. 17.

Cambrians are advised to read the revised notice to determine if they approve of the three proposed rate increases. If not, they can protest one, two and/or three of them, or any combination of them, including all three. A protest form will be available on the CCSD website. Protests can be mailed, delivered to the district office or brought to the hearing in person.

It’s estimated that, under the three new rates, bi-monthly bills for the “average” single-family residence that uses 6 units of water every two months (or about 75 gallons a day) would increase to $211.30, from the current bill of $180.65.

Use more water in a billing period, and rates per unit go up.

People who have already filed a protest must do so again; protests filed based on the prior notice won’t be counted. The board set Oct. 4 as the new hearing date. If the protest fails and directors approve the new rates, they’d go into effect Nov. 1.

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