On the rate study presented to the Cotati City Council, the main objective was to find what the revenue needs currently were, to maintain services day-to-day maintenance and keep the obligations of meeting the legal rates in compliance with Prop 218. The reduction of water use because of the drought has created a problem because the reduced water use by residents has lowered the amount of money being paid. In essence, the residents of Cotati did such a good job saving water during this past drought, that they were able to curtail their water usage enough to keep their bills low during it. This has created hardships with maintaining the cost of services, and it’s being suggested that while the current three-tier structure is kept in place, rates will have to be increased with a closer look at the surcharges in order to create more revenue. Long term, the rates will be adjusted on a 5 to 10- year plan in order to meet annual expenses. Currently, there’s too much of a gap between revenue and expenses, and in order to keep the water services running smoothly, this rate increase is necessary. In dollars, the highest increase in rates would be around $2 per year on a 5-year plan.
In terms of the sewer billing, the discrepancy between revenue and expenditure isn’t as critical, and the move is towards keeping the sewer rates at a more simplified structure. This means averaging out the rates so there is little to no difference between how residents and businesses, such as restaurants, are billed. While there will be exceptions for high-use businesses, the basic premise is to keep the billing structure simple. As such, the sewer rates will rise, but the adjustments will not be as severe as those customers will notice on their water bills.