Carlsbad to restructure water rates

CARLSBAD — Water rates are set to rise.

The City Council here approved on Tuesday to move forward with restructuring rates throughout the city. The action item moves to a public hearing Dec. 1 and if approved, will be implemented Jan. 1, 2016.

City staff calculated a 6.84 percent increase or $1.78 to $27.81 for single-family homes, 9.67 percent ($0.29) for multifamily, about 11 percent (nearly $.50) for commercial and schools would be 4 percent ($0.08).

Carlsbad Senior Accountant Aaron Beanan said $1.5 million from the operating reserve is being used to “stabilize the rates.” If those funds were not used, the raise would have been 16 percent for potable water.

The new proposal structure as follows: Single-family residential units will remain a flat monthly charge, although second dwelling units will be 50 percent of the single-family flat rate.

Multi-family units are 90 percent of water usage and commercial is 95 percent and schools is based on the number of students. The large volume designation was removed and may be added later if such a company enters Carlsbad.

A Wastewater cost of service study was completed last month by Carollo Engineers.

According to the study, the new structure does not create an increase in revenue for fiscal year 2015-16. Instead, it rebalances the rates due to state-mandated water reductions and accounts for “minor shifts between customer classes” from changes in usage patterns.

After this fiscal year, however, a 3 percent increase would commence to fund operational needs and capital reinvestments, according to the study.

As for the second dwelling units, the study reports those “discharged approximately 50 percent more than the average single family residences without a second dwelling unit.”

The example stated in the study bills a primary residence for $41.72 for one month. The flat charge totals $27.81 and the second unit cost is $13.91, which Carollo recommends setting for the second dwelling residences.

An increase of second units is ongoing and the city tallied 349 homes as of Dec. 31, 2014.

As for any increase to potable and recycled water rates, the proposal calls for a 5.25 increase, which is driven by the San Diego County Water Authority’s all-in rate boost of 5.4 percent.

Even with the increases, Carlsbad remains one of the cheapest entities in the county for water rates. According to the city, is just behind Leucadia ($26.04) and Rainbow ($26.05) for monthly wastewater bills and seventh for monthly potable water bills ($79.21).

In 2009, the council passed a rate structure calling for single-family units at a flat rate, multi-family based on 90 percent and commercial and large volume on 100 percent and schools on enrollment.

In other city news —

• The council approved an item to receive from the state of California a Cal OES type-3 fire engine ($242,000 value) and associated equipment worth $30,000 for use when called upon to provide aid for wildland fires and other disasters throughout the state.

The state will assume cost of maintenance, although the city must cover repairs to the engine.

Fire Chief Mike Davis said the new rig will be assigned to station No. 3 giving the city a trio of type-3 engines to combat wildland fires. The other two are at stations Nos. 5 and 6.

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