Editorial: Paso’s new water rate package fair

Finally, Paso Robles has a new water rate package that will cover its share of the Nacimiento Water Project — which means the city won’t have to dip further into reserves, or worse, into the general fund to pay for the project.

That’s a relief, after the years of acrimony over rate increases. Yet there’s still a chance that a small group of citizens who have been opposing rate increases will mount a legal challenge to the latest rate increase. This time, the group didn’t file a protest over the rate increase, but it’s questioning the timing.

John Borst, spokesman for the Concerned Citizens of Paso Robles, said he believes the city should have waited a year after the November election — when voters turned down a different rate measure — before approving the latest increase.

The city attorney disagrees. She says the new rate package is substantially different from the one that voters turned down and is, therefore, OK.

This is legal hair splitting, and we strongly urge Concerned Citizens to flush plans to take the case to court. The city modified its rate structure numerous times in an attempt to come up with a formula that would mollify opponents —including dropping an $18-per-month flat fee that every customer paid.

Now, customers will pay only for the water they use. Those who make an effort to conserve water will pay less, which is fair.

No one likes rate increases of any kind, to be sure. But in drought-prone California, cities are wise to ensure that their citizens will have water when they turn on the tap — both today and 20 years from now.

Joining the Nacimiento Water Project assures Paso residents will have an adequate supply of water.

Now, it’s time to pay for that. The city has devised an equitable way to do that — and it should not have to throw money down the drain to defend itself in court.