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Ripon water meter vote not enough to halt city rate hikes
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RIPON — Citizens protesting a proposed single family residential water metered rate were short in their opposition by some 1,700 votes – only 587 residents sent letters to the city objecting to the change related only to those customers that already have meters installed.

On August 17 the city council accepted a study on the proposed water meter rate and adopted a resolution initiating the Proposition 218 citizen protest procedure that was required before they could establish the new rates.

In line with the resolution and California state law, a notice of a public hearing along with protest ballots were sent to all affected water customers within the community.  Only some 20 members of the public attended the Tuesday night city council meeting with Ripon businessman Gordon Van der Veen being the only speaker.

Van der Veen chided the state’s method of collecting protest votes from the water users in the community.  He noted that asking for negative votes and considering those who didn’t vote were OK with the new metered system – a flawed approach, he suggested.

He asked in comparison if a person were running for election and only a small number vote for him in the negative, would that equate to believing the 3,900 who didn’t vote were in favor of the candidate?

Mayor Chuck Winn said that whether the council and the citizens did or did not pass the rate change, it was going to happen one way or the other.

Residential water customers within the city have long been billed for their water use on a flat rate based on the size of their lots whether they have a water meter installed or not.   California Assembly Bill 2572 mandates that all consumers with a meter are to be billed for the actual volume of water used beginning in January.
For those living in homes that were built after 1992, most already have water meters, unlike those dating back prior to 1992.

The new single family residential (SFR) metered water rate consists of two components, a base rate and a commodity rate with the base rate varying with the meter size and the commodity rate varying with actual water usage.

The new rate goes into effect Jan. 1 and is adjusted annually based on the consumer price index, and applies only to SFR customers with a meter installed.  The current SFR flat water rates and non-SFR customers such as multi-family units, commercial establishments, churches and schools are not going to be affected by the change.

Under state mandate all water users must be changed over to meters by the year 2025.