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City says water, garbage rate increases needed

Proposes 4.04 percent cumulative increase for 2011 and 3.89 percent for 2012
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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It’s that time again — the time every two years when Roseville’s Environmental Utilities Department reviews rates to determine if an increase is needed.

After completing a rate analysis, the department determined that increases for water and solid waste are needed to ensure revenues cover the cost of providing service. Roseville owns and operates water, sewer and garbage utilities.

“The good news is we’re not proposing a rate increase for wastewater for the next two years,” said Environmental Utilities Director Derrick Whitehead.

The city proposes a 4.04 percent cumulative rate increase for 2011 and 3.89 percent cumulative rate increase for 2012.

“It’s not a large increase but it is an increase,” Whitehead said. “We recognize customers are in the same economic situation we are, and we realize it’s never a good time to raise rates.”

Roseville City Council will consider the proposed increase Wednesday, June 1. In the meantime, residents have two chances to attend public workshops for more information and to offer feedback.

The city currently has 36,567 residential accounts and 2,004 commercial accounts, said Administrative Analyst Sean Bigley.

The council previously approved a rate adjustment in 2009, which resulted in a $3.66 monthly increase on the typical residential bill, and in 2010, which resulted in a $3.88 jump.

Whitehead said even with the new increases, Roseville will have the lowest combined rates in the region, below Lincoln, Rocklin, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Sacramento and Davis. In 2012, the typical monthly bill for a Roseville household will be $83.76. Currently, the typical residential bill is $77.49.

In Sacramento, the typical monthly bill for residents is $113 and in Davis the cost is $115, according to a Roseville staff report.

A combination of factors led to the proposal, including a water conservation mandate that calls for a 20 percent reduction in urban water use by 2020, a debt coverage ratio requirement and increased contribution to rehabilitation efforts.

Roseville’s Environmental Utilities provides services for a majority of residents, although small pockets get water from Placer County Water Agency or San Juan Water District. These customers will not be affected by the potential water rate increase.

In terms of solid waste, one reason for the increase is to cover the costs of replacing bins and compactors. Most residents have bins from the 1980s.

“They are long past their useful lives,” said Carol Margetich, business services administrator for environmental utilities.

The department is nearly done with the water meter retrofit project, which has been in the works for about 13 years.

The six people working on that project — which was funded by grants and a meter surcharge — will be shifted back to Environmental Utilities’ department budget once the project is complete later this year.

“For the past four or five years, the department has been leaning down and not fully staffed in anticipation of them coming back,” Whitehead said.

Environmental Utilities staff has presented its proposal to local business owners and major corporations to solicit feedback.

“Even small increases in utility fees have a significant impact on merchants that are struggling in a challenging economy, so rate increases are never trivial to business owners,” said Scott Alvord, owner of A Dash of Panache and president of the Downtown Merchants Association.

Whitehead made a presentation about the proposed increase to his group on April 6.

“I believe (Whitehead’s) department has been responsible in trying to cut costs as much as reasonably possible and part of the increase is to plan for replacement of cans and bins in the future,” Alvord said. “I don’t like the increase but I appreciate the responsible approach and justification for the increase.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.

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Public workshop for utility rates increase

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 and 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28

Where: The first workshop is at Maidu Community Center, 1550 Maidu Drive in Roseville and the second workshop is at Martha Riley Library, 1501 Pleasant Grove Blvd. in Roseville

Info: Visit www.roseville.ca.us/eurates

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Impacts of proposed water and garbage rate increases on monthly bills:

Typical residential customer
Water — 9.5 percent increase in 2011/8.5 percent increase in 2012
Current bill: $25.79
Bill in 2011: $28.22
Bill in 2012: $30.66

Garbage — 3 percent increase in 2011/3 percent increase in 2012
Current bill: $22.70
Bill in 2011: $23.40
Bill in 2012: $24.10

Combined bill with water, garbage and sewer
Current bill: $77.49
Bill in 2011: $80.62
Bill in 2012: $83.76

Typical commercial customer
Large commercial
Current bill: $3,261
Bill in 2011: $3,510.11
Bill in 2012: $3,772.93

Medium commercial
Current bill: $280.95
Bill in 2011: $307.64
Bill in 2012: $336.47

Small commercial
Current bill: $120.56
Bill in 2011: $126.96
Bill in 2012: $133.32

Source: City of Roseville Environmental Utilities Department