The Cambrian

Will Cambria’s water and sewer rates increase? Upcoming meeting will provide the answer

Community Service District board of director elections are coming up soon. See who is running in Cambria, Los Osos and San Simeon.
Community Service District board of director elections are coming up soon. See who is running in Cambria, Los Osos and San Simeon.

Cambrians should learn Thursday, Oct. 4, if their water and sewer bills will be going up as of Nov. 1. Fixed and quantity charges for the Sustainable Water Facility also could rise.

It all depends on how many Cambria Community Services District ratepayers filed letters or forms protesting the proposed rate increases.

For the protests to succeed and stop the residential rate increases, eligible landowners and tenants would have had to submit 1,916 protests against the new sewage-treatment rates, 1,972 against the water rates and 1,971 against the Sustainable Water Facility rates, according to the CSD.

Commercial rates also could go up, pending the number of protests filed.

According to Haley Dodson, the CSD’s deputy district clerk, Pismo Beach City Clerk Erica Inderlied is to count the protests at the public hearing that starts at 2 p.m. Protests can be filed until the start of that hearing.

There may be more to that meeting than the protest count and announcement of results, however.

If too many of the CSD’s directors are unable to attend the board’s regular Sept. 27 meeting, it would be postponed for lack of a quorum and the agenda topics would be incorporated into the Oct. 4 session, with a start time of noon.

Topics include considering criteria to declare a Stage 3 water-shortage emergency, and approving having the fire department apply for an assistance-to-firefighters grant to replace radio equipment.

Dodson said she wouldn’t know for sure until 2 p.m. Sept. 27 which directors would be absent that day.

Outgoing General Manager Jerry Gruber isn’t expected to be at the Sept. 27 meeting, according to Board President Amanda Rice. Gruber’s last day on the job is Sept. 28, according to the terms of a separation agreement he and Rice signed on Sept. 13.

District Clerk Monique Madrid — the acting general manager when Gruber’s not in the office and after he leaves the district — won’t be there either, since she will be on vacation, Rice said.

The notice of proposed rate increases sent Aug. 17 estimates that, if new rates go into effect Nov. 1, 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.

Rates listed in the notice are the maximum that the district can charge while the new rates are in force. However, the board could opt to lower the rates if costs prove to not be as high as projected by figures provided to the consultant by CCSD staff.

That was the second notice sent by the district, which had to redo and resend the document, which also meant changing the hearing date.

In recent weeks, rate-hike opponents have campaigned against the increases and staffed a table at the Friday farmers market, and Cambrians for Fiscal Responsibility mailed blank protest forms to ratepayers (a form was also available on the CCSD website).

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