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Lathrop hearing tonight on proposed 5-year hikes for sewer, water services
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LATHROP — Lathrop residents who want to protest against the proposed five-year increases to their monthly sewer and water bills have another opportunity tonight to voice their concerns.

At the City Council meeting tonight at 7 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, council members will hold a public hearing on the proposed hikes in monthly utility bills. After the public hearing and discussion, the council will vote whether to approve the higher monthly figures, lower those figures, or come up with another plan.

City Hall is located at 390 Towne Centre Drive at Mossdale Landing.

Under the five-year boosts in monthly utility bills as proposed by staff, the monthly sewer costs would jump from $34 a month starting in February to $71 in 2011 for residents who live east of Interstate 5 in the area also known as historic Lathrop. For those on the west side, the jump would be from $34 at the start to $63 a month on the fifth year.

In the same manner, monthly water bills for those in historic Lathrop under the new proposal would go from $39 to $60 a month. Residents on the west side would be paying $51 a month, up from their current bill of $30 a month. While the figures for those on the west side are lower, residents there also pay an extra $9 a month for their water through a property tax. That extra money goes to pay for the city’s share in the South San Joaquin Surface Water Project, a joint project of the cities of Manteca, Tracy, Escalon and Lathrop under the auspices of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.

By spreading the increases to a five-year period, the city is making an effort to soften the blow of the utility rate increases. Thus far, rate increases have been absorbed by the city’s general funds. This move to increase the fees would be to prevent the further financial hemorrhaging in the general fund which is used mainly for such services as police and fire protection.

Input from residents on the proposed rate increases were held at the beginning of the month during town hall-type meetings to explain the reasons behind the proposed rate hikes. One such meeting was held at the Lathrop Community Center in the Old Town district. Another meeting was held at City Hall for the residents on the west side.