Water rates to increase in new year

CARLSBAD — In the New Year, Carlsbad residents can expect an increase in their water and sewer rates as recently approved by City Council, however trash removal fees will remain the same.
Council approved the increase in residential water and sewer prices 4-0, with Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin absent, at their Nov. 23 meeting during a public hearing. City staff has projected that these increases will add around $8.24 to a resident’s monthly bill.
“The long-term objective of setting rates at these levels is to generate revenue to pay for the ongoing annual operation of these services and have an amount set aside for emergencies,” senior accountant Helga Stover said.
Out of three options proposed by city staff, council voted to increase water rates for Carlsbad Municipal Water District customers by 7.2 percent for the fixed monthly charge and 18 percent for the per unit, or “commodity,” charge.
Mayor Bud Lewis noted the issue was out of Carlsbad’s hands, as the city is not capable of absorbing the increase in rates from the region’s water suppliers.
“Carlsbad residents and businesses are using 25 percent less water than just a few years ago, resulting in a significant reduction of revenues,” Stover said. As a result, regional water suppliers are boosting rates to cover the gap.
However, Carlsbad residents will still pay below average water rates compared to nearby communities, city Utilities Director Glenn Pruim said.
Council also approved a 10 percent increase in sewer rates for residential customers, which would add an estimated $2.10 to a monthly bill.
Carlsbad’s wastewater fund is currently operating in a deficit and Pruim estimated that with the approved increases, “we’ll end the fiscal year $1.5 million in the red.”
“We do anticipate that we’ll need rate increases every year until 2015 to get to a healthy position in the wastewater fund,” he said.
Lastly, council voted unanimously against Waste Management’s requested rate increase of 2.65 percent for its trash hauling services. The new rate would have increased monthly bills by $0.50 and placed Waste Management within the industry standard profit margin, Pruim said.
“If they were losing money, I’d say helping them break even is fine,” Lewis said. “But if there’s an increase (in Waste Management’s profit), I have a little difficulty supporting that.”
In accordance with city rules, Carlsbad residents were alerted of possible rate increases through written notice 45 days prior to the effective start date. The city received three letters in protest of rate increases prior to Nov. 23’s public hearing.


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