Water rates are going up.
At least that’s what the consultant hired by the City of Ripon is going to determine once the dust settles.
On Monday the Ripon City Council approved spending more than $55,000 to contract with Municipal Financial Services to determine the best way to proceed with bringing the city’s split water system into compliance with a looming state law.
Currently only half of the city’s water customers are on a metered system. The cost of installing the meters for the remaining half is going to have to be picked up by the customers themselves at a cost of roughly $800 each.
Customers would have the choice of paying for the meter in full up front, or covering the cost over a 10-year period on contract with the city.
But that law doesn’t go into effect for another decade, and with California’s rigid rate increase system set in stone by Proposition 218 – the ratepayers themselves have to approve an increase by a vote – might require legal wrangling if the surcharge falls into that same category.
The city, however, is going to get all that they can out of the consultant. In addition to shaping the model for the pending water issue, the firm is also going to perform a rate analysis for the wastewater and garbage enterprise funds to see just where the city stacks up with municipalities of similar size.
Based on the proposal by the Nevada-based firm, the work performed would include a separate study for each enterprise fund that maps out operating revenues and expenditures and debt service and coverage in order to craft rates that will coincide with the requirements of Proposition 218 and the fiscal needs of the city.
A five-year forecast will be included for each of the funds to give City Administrator Kevin Werner and his staff an idea of where the city stands.
The city last saw a water rate increase after it was overwhelmingly approved by city voters in 2010. It was discussed then at a meeting of the council that the city was going to have comply with a state law that required meter water distribution, and that the disparity between customers that pay a flat rate verses those that are metered can be severe – somebody filling a 20,000-gallon swimming pool on a flat rate system would, at that time, only have had to have paid $12.
Of all of the cities in San Joaquin County, Ripon was the second cheapest on average at $34-a-month.