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Three show up to E.C. rate workshop

March 15, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ,Staff Writer

The city of El Centro conducted a workshop Thursday to inform the public of pending increases in water and wastewater rates needed to help with system-wide improvements throughout the city.

Three people showed up.

The city currently charges $25.87 monthly for water. A proposal will go before the City Council to increase that rate to $27.96 effective July 1, 2002. By the end of the planned upgrades — seven years — the rate is expected to be $37.59.

Steve Hogan, city director of public works, said the city needs $14.8 million in upgrades in its filtration system, system controls, pumps, raw water storage capacity and disinfection system, among others.

"The numbers speak for themselves," he said.

Gil Perez, chairman of the United Taxpayers of Imperial County asked why, with an estimated inflation rate of 3 percent, the city assumes a 6 percent annual increase in employee wages and benefits.

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Mayor Larry Grogan said the city has to compete against all other California communities to retain qualified plant operators who must go through periodic and increased training to retain their operator licenses.

Hogan added that the increased wages and benefits do not come from the city's general fund but from fees for services.

The city's treatment plant was built in 1954 and has undergone upgrades as needed. Its original design capacity is 18 million gallons per day, with actual capacity between 13-14 million and peak demand about 12 million.

On the wastewater treatment side, the city charges $25.91 monthly. On July 1, the rate will go up to $27.46, and by 2007 it should reach $34.67.

Wastewater treatment facilities need $22.3 million in upgrades, including lift stations, odor control, sludge drying area and ultraviolet unit among others.

The wastewater treatment plant was built in 1957. Its capacity is 8 million gallons per day. It currently treats about 4 million and has a peak of about 6 million.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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