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FPUD public hearing set for June 20 on rate increases
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Issue 19, Volume 16.
At a recent board meeting, the board began reviewing the water and wastewater rate changes for the upcoming financial year, and wanted to give the public an opportunity to voice their opinions to the board.
According to FPUD general manager Brian Brady, a percentage increase of 12 to 13 percent can be anticipated by customers of the water district, and the changes would take effect on July 1.
"Approximately 85 percent of the increases can be attributed to the driving costs of imported water rates," said Brady, who stated that 99 percent of the district’s water is purchased from the San Diego County Water Authority, which in turn purchases most of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Milt Davies, president of the board, stated that the original rate increase was approximated to be 14 percent, but may be as low as 10 percent.
"[The rate increases] are one of the key drivers for me in this consolidation [with Rainbow Municipal Water District]," said Davies. "We can collectively save $2 to $3 million, but not in the first year."
As imported water costs continue to escalate, the board determined it was essential to secure a local water source for Fallbrook residents, in addition to proposing a sewer capital improvement charge that will pay for the rehabilitation of the waste treatment plant.
"The plant has not had any significant work since the 1980s," said Brady, who said that the board was "very concerned about the rising external costs that the district has no control over."
Davies explained that the FPUD board is looking for ways to continue to keep costs down.
"There will be people who want to retire," said Davies. "We want to help them make an exit, and there are all sorts of things that we can do. We can lower the staff size from 123 to 102. That’s where the real savings are."
Davies believes that the possible consolidation of FPUD and Rainbow Municipal Water District will bring additional savings to the ratepayers.
"[Brady] went through that with the Rancho Californian and the Santa Rosa Water Districts," said Davies. "We are looking to our neighbors to the north for the financial model that we use to keep the divisional accounting segregated. Rainbow will keep its debt and structure, and we will keep ours. We will lay the administration over the entire package; therein lies the savings."
Brady also stated that the board was able to successfully petition an addition to the agricultural discount that North County agricultural customers have been using.
"It was extended for another two years," he said. "We really appreciate the unanimous vote at the Water Authority. It was a good thing for them to decide for the San Diego County region."
Davies said that the district has held the line on the operational costs for approximately four years, but that the costs might have to increase.
"We can only do that for so long, and we want to be able to look our ratepayers in the eye and say we are doing everything we can to keep payments down and our quality up," said Davies. "Hopefully we can see some type of savings. This does not mean that our water rates will drop significantly, but it will mean that we will keep costs from being more ramped up and keep them more stable and flat."
Davies hopes that the ratepayers will reap the benefits of the coalition.
"The two general managers for the districts have really ramped up their efforts," he said. "We are very optimistic."
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