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Santa Monica Prepares Five Percent Hike in Water Rate

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 8, 2018 -- The water rate for the City of Santa Monica is poised to rise by 5 percent this year, the same as in the previous two years, but short of the maximum nine percent hike authorized in 2015 as part of a five-year plan.

The rates -- pending City Council approval on Tuesday -- are in effect as of January 1, a report said.

For residential customers, the rates start at $3.16 per hundred cubic feet of water (HCFs), which is the equivalent of 748 gallons) for those using up to 14 HCFs.

The rates rise, topping out at $11.10 for 149 or more HCFs, or for 21-plus dwelling units.

Non-residential rates will range from $4.48 to $11.06.

The higher rates will first appear on March water bills.

California’s historically long drought helped prompt Santa Monica’s decision to increase rates at nine percent for each of five years.

The City’s Water fund was headed toward the red as the cost of water increased and the City tried to juggle big infrastructure projects and -- especially -- staff expenses.

Santa Monicaalso is on an aggressive drive to be totally water self-sufficient by 2020 ("Santa Monica Moves Forward with Water Plan," October 30, 2014).

About 30 percent of its water is imported from the Metropolitan Water District.

Council approved a 9 percent hike in 2015, but 5 percent in 2016 and again in 2017 due to better fiscal health ("Santa Monica City to Maintain Cuts in Water Use Despite Recent Storms," February 1, 2017.

A review of the City’s water fund during the 2016-17 fiscal year indicated revenues bumped about $600,000 more than expected, said Susan Cline, director pf public works and water resources.

But spending was $8.6 million less than anticipated, leaving the Water Fund with a $36.7 million fund balance, she said.

A five-percent increase, as opposed to nine percent, will provide enough revenue to continue its services, and fund projects aimed at self-sufficiency, the report said.


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