Manteca utility customers are posed to get an early Christmas present on Tuesday - a suspension of planned rate increases for sewer and water service in 2012.
The city’s across-the-board response three years ago to the economic slowdown to reorganize and reduce staff costs coupled with dropping sewer project construction costs is allowing the City Council to freeze rates for the second consecutive year. Back in December 2010, the council temporarily postponed an 8 percent increase in sewer rates and a 5 percent increase in water rates originally adopted for 2011.
If the council agrees with staff recommendations on Tuesday, the rate freeze will be extended until at least the end of 2012.
The city complied with state mandates to put in place a rate structure two years ago that encourages water conservation. Essentially the plan called for reducing the basic monthly rate in 2010 and 2011 before taking them back up while increases charges for actual water use with the third tier - the heaviest used amount of water - paying proportionally more for water than those at the first level.
The current basic water service rate was $18.50 in 2010 having dropped from $19.95 in 2009. The fixed service rate charge for next year will be $17.15 per month.
Meanwhile actual water use charges will remain unchanged for the third straight year despite a plan in place that called for annual jumps of 5 percent adopted in 2009. The 5 percent increase didn’t happen this past year because the city was able to get a number of water system construction projects underway while taking advantage of lower bids due to the economy. At the same time the city’s effort to reduce all city spending – including enterprise funds supported by users’ fees – resulted in lower water costs.
Rates were due to go up on Jan. 1 from $1.03 per hundred cubic feet of water to $1.16 for the first 2,000 cubic feet. The per hundred cubic feet charge for 2,000 to 30,000 cubic feet was scheduled to go up from $1.35 to $1.53 per hundred cubic feet with the rate for use above 30,000 cubic feet going up from $2.72 to $3.06 per hundred cubic feet. If water use mirrors previous years the decision not to increase the actual use rate it would result in no changes in water bill pavements each month.
If all things considered remain even in terms of water use, a typical residential user will spend $1.35 per month less on their water bill. than in 2010.
The original water plan was to ratchet water rates up over the course of three years .The plan called for:
• The first block of up to 2,000 cubic feet going from $0.96 per hundred cubic feet in 2008 to $1.43 in 2013.
• The second block of 2,001 cubic feet to 30,000 cubic feet going from $1.26 per hundred cubic feet in 2008 to $187 in 2013.
• The third block, any usage over 30,000 cubic feet, going from $2.53 per hundred cubic feet to $3.76 in 2013.