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Water rate increases could be Chavez’ final vote

OCEANSIDE — Councilman Rocky Chavez said one of the final things he wanted to accomplish as a councilman was to ensure that water rates were raised to cover water supply charges and secure bond rates, and at a special meeting held Nov. 12, ordinances to increase water and wastewater rates were approved in a 3-1 vote. Mayor Jim Wood voted no and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez was absent.
The approval of water rate increases may be one of Chavez’s final votes. He has accepted the position of undersecretary for California Department of Veteran Affairs. He began the Sacramento job Nov. 16, but as of Nov. 12 has not turned in his resignation as councilman.
The special meeting to approve water rate increases lasted just four minutes. Wood said there was no discussion and the 3-1 vote was expected.
Without a rate increase, the city was not charging water users enough to cover the increased cost in water supply tacked on by the Metropolitan Water District since September. This put the city in the financial jeopardy of not securing its bond debt and possibly being called on to pay in full for more than $105 million in water infrastructure debt.
Ordinances to increase water and wastewater rates were adopted Nov. 4 in a 3-1 vote in which Wood voted no and Sanchez was absent. This was followed by the final approval of the ordinances Nov. 12.
The increases will add $8.40 a month to an average family’s water bill and $10.37 a month to wastewater charges.
Wood, who voted no on the increases, said $20 a month in rate increases will have a significant impact on many people, especially in the present economy. He said council should have said no to Metropolitan Water District rate increases long before this increase. The Metropolitan Water District increased water rates earlier this year and is expected to raise rates again in 2011.