Water rates likely to rise in Cotati
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By Dave Williams  June 28, 2013 12:49 pm

The Cotati City Council has called a special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, July 1, to consider changes in city water rates.

The proposed change in rates for the average residential customer will be an increase of 2.1 percent, which will result in an increase of $2 per month during the summer when usage is at its highest and $1.30 per month during the winter. Currently, residential customers pay $2.64 for each thousand gallons of water used.

The city is proposing a tiered rate structure where customers pay a higher rate for water at higher levels of use. The proposed rate structure, according to the city staff report, would help keep water charges moderate at lower levels of use and encourages conservation at higher levels of use. 

The proposal also calls for multi-family and non-residential customers to pay the average rate paid by the residential class. All customers will continue to pay a fixed meter charge with a billing every two months.

According to a staff report, Cotati has not changed water rates in more than six years. And the city’s independent rate consultant recently completed a water and sewer rate study and recommended Cotati adjust the water rates to meet the rising cost of providing water service and supporting the necessary infrastructure projects. However, there is no proposed change to the sewer rates.

State law mandates water and sewer systems must be self supporting, meaning the funding comes solely from the rates, and this revenue may not be used for any other city services. The city staff report states no local, state or federal taxes offset the costs.

Since 2007, the cost of wholesale water from the Russian River has increased by 53 percent, the staff report said. And Cotati relies on the Russian River for two-thirds of its water supply.

The city report, written by Damien O’Bid, City Engineer and Director of Public Works, says, “After six years of managing these increases for our customers, we need to plan for future rate changes so they don’t erode our ability to provide services to our customers and maintain our system. There are funding requirements to support projects that will improve our system reliability and resiliency and to replace aging infrastructure.”

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