Del Mar water, sewer rates going up in July

DEL MAR — With less than 4 percent of property owners and ratepayers opposing the increases, City Council, during a special meeting May 26, voted unanimously to raise water and sewer rates. The five-year schedule will be in effect this July 1 through June 30, 2014.
Typical residential users can expect an annual increase of about 6 percent in their water bills and 5 to 7.5 percent in sewer rates. Commercial customers will pay approximately 7 percent more each year for water and about that much or more for sewer.
That means the average household now paying a fixed rate of $17.08 per month for water will pay $18.55 next year and $23.53 beginning in 2013. That same customer with a base rate of $37.50 for sewer will pay $35.40 next year and $41.98 in 2013.
Additional increases will be implemented if imminent water allocations or cutbacks are mandated. Fees for new or upsized connections also will go up.
Written notice was mailed to 1,117 property owners and ratepayers in early April, slightly more than 45 days prior to the May 26 public hearing. If a majority plus one, or about 560 of those who received notices, had protested, the increases could not have been adopted. The city received 37 written protests and no one spoke at the May 26 hearing.
The city calculates base flows for sewer rates by measuring winter water use. This was thought to be the most accurate way to separate indoor water use, which flows into the sewer system, from outdoor use, which does not, because less water is used for irrigation in winter.
Council members questioned whether the method was fair to hillside owners with large yards because watering needs would still be greater, even in winter. Staff research confirmed that was true, but it was noted that for larger properties, sewer mains per dwelling require substantially more city maintenance.
The method was deemed fair because although hillside customers pay more for sewer than beach residents, city maintenance and operational costs are higher per parcel.

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