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Manteca households save $400 each
City refinances sewer, water bonds; cancels rate increases
Manteca ratepayers are benefitting from efficiencies put in place by city workers at the wastewater treatment plant. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca residents won’t be flushing additional money down the toilet in 2013.

The City Council Tuesday suspended monthly sewer rate hikes as well as monthly water charge increases for the third straight year Tuesday thanks to increased operating efficiencies accomplished by municipal staff and lower construction costs for ongoing upgrade and replacement projects.

The news gets better. Manteca’s elected leaders on Tuesday also authorized refinancing $87 million in bonds issued in 2003 to expand the wastewater treatment plant and build the city’s portion of the South San Joaquin County Surface Water Treatment Plant. The $11 million in interest savings is from being able to refinance the original bonds at 4.75 percent to new bonds at 3.5 percent expected to be bought and in place within two weeks.

That translates into roughly $400 in savings per Manteca household over the life of the bonds. The city is able to refinance the bonds without extending them.

Union Ranch resident Bruce Lownsbery lauded the council’s action calling the $8 million “a stunning savings”. He also lauded the council and staff for “exemplary good stewardship” of municipal finances to be able to maintain a solid credit rating that allowed the refinancing.

An Urban Futures representative - charged with preparing the bond sale for market - said that Manteca was one of the best financially run cities in California which has allowed it to attain the credit rating necessary to borrow money at the lower rate. He added that rates haven’t been this low since 1962.

The roughly $400 per household savings in the coming years will take pressure off future rate increases.

Council action over the past three years, though, means a typical Manteca household will have avoided paying an accumulative $247 by the end of 2013 in rate hikes for sewer that had been put in place in 2009. At the same time a typical household will have avoided $140 in water charge increases by the time 2013 ends. That reflects an average of 387 in savings for an average Manteca household over a three year period ending on Dec., 31, 2013.

“Kudos to our staff,” said Councilman John Harris.

There was no desire - or need - for the city to enhance the reserve of either the water or sewer maintenance and operation accounts

“We’re not a bank,” Councilman Vince Hernandez. “We’re a city government that’s trying to run efficiently.”