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$25 a month utility rate hikes delayed
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LATHROP – Water and sewer rates could increase for Lathrop residents over the course of the next two years.

But the Lathrop City Council – that was set to discuss the matter during their meeting last week – has continued the matter until May to allow for additional information to be gathered and studied during that time.

According to the report prepared by city staff for council members, the current water fund revenues are less than projected in the rate study that was prepared but sewer funds are currently meeting projections. Unexpected infrastructure repair and maintenance, however, will require additional rate increases to help keep the funds financially solvent.

Several options could end up raising rates for East Lathrop residents from $46 currently up to $71 by 2013, and residents wet of Interstate 5 could see their bill increase from $37 monthly up to $60 a month by 2013 – depending on the selection made by the council.

And determining how to proceed with future rate prices and increases could end up costing ratepayers $42,000.

Staff is requesting that the council approve a contract with Municipal Financial Services that would help lay out a computerized model of projected water uses and purchases, current sewer conditions and expected growth and what would be needed to cover that, sources of additional revenue other than rates, projected revenue from rates, projected fund balances, projected debt service coverage and others.

A final report would be included in the price, and would cover projected revenues through 2016.

Earlier this month the council began consideration of the possible rate increases that would be needed to help cover the costs to upgrade the aging sewer system as well as the severely underperforming expectations in the water revenues that led to a $400,000 from the fund at the end of last year.

Currently there is $4.3 million remaining in the water fund to help smooth rates over the course of the next six years.

Overall, water usage has decreased across the board over last year – leading some to speculate that foreclosures may have been played a large role in the shortfalls – even though the number of people that the city has billed has increased during that time frame.