Urging water customers to oppose rate increase
The blue card received some weeks ago from the City of Sonoma advising of their intent to increase water use rates annually for the next five years is a call for action by all recipients to respond – by writing a letter of objection to the city. Water bills may not seem large compared to other basic utilities, but these others are not raising their rates consistently and automatically year after year.
I was a lonely objector to a similar action by the city in 2007 – to no avail – even though the city’s consultant agreed that recent rate increases at that time had been “aggressive.”
Living alone, my water use is pretty small; in fact, in an effort to conserve water, I have reduced my average usage during the past five years by 14 percent. But my water bills have gone up by 25 percent. Why? Because water use rates have increased 32 percent since 2007. In addition, the water “service fee” – which has nothing to do with usage but accounts for almost two-thirds of my bills – has increased by 41 percent.
Now, the city wants to raise the usage fee by another 27.5 percent over the next five years – and I assume the “service fee” will also be raised in parallel. When most incomes are not rising, but rather are stagnant or fixed for many of us, this rate of increases is unacceptable.
While I appreciate the need to maintain the infrastructure, such maintenance should have been done on a continuing basis (and/or funds for such adequately budgeted) rather than dumping 75 percent of the estimated costs on current ratepayers.
The city will not implement these new rate increases if a majority of the current 4,266 customers files a written objection before the planned Sept. 17 meeting. Do so now.
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Gerry Simmel is a resident of Sonoma.