Brawley moves ahead with plan to hike sewer rates by 25%

June 06, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The City Council here voted 3-2 approving a first reading of an ordinance that will raise the city's sewer rates by 25 percent.

Council members Steve Vasquez and Toni Carrillo voted against the rate hike. Voting for the hike were council members John Benson, Jo Shields and Mayor Wayne Johnson.

Costs associated with a recent $1 million replacement of the Oakley sewer line in the northeast section of the city and accommodations needed for the under-construction beef-processing plant contributed to the rate hike, which was included in the $34.7 million 2001-2002 budget the council adopted last month.

Benson and Shields were regretful in their decision to raise rates.

"I don't think anybody likes to raise rates," Benson said.

"I believe we are doing our people wrong," Vasquez said of the rate increase. Vasquez made a motion to raise rates by 15 percent but the motion failed.


No comments were made from the audience during the public hearing held regarding the rate increase.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 19. If adopted, the rate increase would be effective June 19, with a first billing date of Aug. 1.

Also at the meeting, the council reviewed water rate fees for mobile home parks.

At its last meeting, several Tangerine Gardens Mobile Home Park residents appeared before the council regarding a change in billing and rate increase in water fees.

A software glitch and staff error excluded most mobile home parks from water rate increases four years ago. A new $29.39 monthly flat rate will replace the metered rates for which the mobile home parks have been billed.

City officials estimated the city lost $30,000 for each year that the mobile home park residents were excluded from the rate increase.

Several mobile home park resident spoke before the council, saying the flat rates were too costly. Residents also said because they conserve their water usage, the flat rate would bill them for water they didn't use.

Staff presented the council with three compromises that would gradually increase park resident's flat rate over three years.

At the suggestion of Carrillo, the council voted to use the second compromise, which limits the increases to 30 percent per year.

The council also directed staff to review the billing system for the mobile home parks and seek a system that would please all parties involved.

City Manager Jerry Santillan noted an upcoming water rate study the city has contracted out and said the mobile home parks will be included in the study.

Johnson directed staff to look into the cause of park residents exclusion from the rate increases as well as other possible revenue losses and "software glitches" that may have excluded other residents from rate increases.

Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452.

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