Manteca’s across-the-board austerity effort to reverse municipal fortunes in the wake of the Great Recession triggered by the foreclosure crisis is paying off for city water users.
The City Council on Tuesday is expected to defer monthly water service use charges for the fourth straight year effective Jan. 1, 2013. Had the raises scheduled in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 gone into effect Manteca water uses would be paying 18.8 percent more or $1.43 for the first block of 2,000 cubic feet of water each month instead of the current $1.16.
Actually, the cost of monthly service has gone down since 2009. State law back in 2008 required public water purveyors to put in higher usage rates to encourage conservation while allowing fixed rates per meter size to be reduced. Manteca residential customers were paying $19.95 plus water usage in 2009. The meter charge has since dropped by $2.80 down to $17.15 per month.
Even with the lower rates the city has been able to undertake over $7 million in system upgrades including improvements to reduce arsenic content in municipal water.
The ability to keep rates in line while spending on capital improvements is credited to reduced staff costs since 2009 as well as operational efficiencies. Also helping was the fact Manteca was able to pool money in advance allowing it to take advantage of construction costs that have dropped as much as 35 percent due to the recession to make large scale system improvements.
Most other cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley have had to increase water rates during the past four years.