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Water rates to increase for San Juan Water District retail customers

Passes with 3-2 vote; goes into effect in January
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Water rates will increase by 2 percent for San Juan Water District retail customers beginning in January.

The district's board of directors approved the increase in a 3-2 vote on June 13. General Manager Shauna Lorance said the increase will cover the rising costs of chemicals, capital-improvement projects, new regulations and maintaining adequate reserves.

The district provides drinking water to more than 265,000 residents in Granite Bay, east Roseville and the northeast portion of Sacramento County. They wholesale water to Citrus Heights and Fair Oaks water districts, Orangevale Water Company and the city of Folsom.

Board members Dave Peterson and Ken Miller cast the opposing votes on the rate increase.

"(This) economy is causing severe hardship on ratepayers and I didn't think it was absolutely necessary," Peterson told the Press Tribune. "Half of the increase was going to pay for 3.1 percent raises for everybody, plus 20 percent of the staff will get another step increase on top of that."

The board approved a 3.1 percent cost of living adjustment increase for employees. In May 2011, the board voted to give employees an 8 percent increase because they were going to start paying more into their benefits.

"Our ratepayers are suffering pay cuts, sales slumps and layoffs, and I couldn't support another raise after granting an 8 percent across-the-board raise last year," Peterson said.

He said San Juan Water District staff already make more than most other local agencies.

"San Juan understands rate increases are difficult during these economic times and is committed to keeping rates as low as possible while ensuring delivery of safe, reliable and high-quality water," Lorance said.

She said the district continues to try to save money, including with its solar project that reduces energy costs.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.