Water rate hearing is Dec. 10

Water rate hearing is Dec. 10IWVWD Board President Ron Kicinski, outgoing Vice President Chuck Griffin and Director Chuck Cordell during a Board of Directors meeting earlier this month — Photo by Laura Austin

------

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Water District will hold a public hearing Monday, Dec. 10, to hear any protests or concerns regarding its five scheduled rate increases over the next four years. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the IWVWD Board Room, 500 W. Ridgecrest Blvd.

Through July 2022 customers will see an increase from $.56 per hundred cubic feet to $.82 for Tier 1 use (which will shift up to 9 HCF from 7 HCF per month), $.88 to $1.450 per HCF for Tier 2 (9-24 HCF), $2.39 to 2.69 per HCF for Tier 3 (24-45 HCF) and $4.65 to $5.54 for Tier 4 (more than 45 HCF).

Fixed monthly charges will also increase (or decrease in some cases) based on meter size. There are also various changes to zone charges, construction meter charges, bulk rates and private fire service charges. The water rate study will be available for public viewing at the district office no fewer than 10 days before the public hearing.

According to California Proposition 218, the board is not authorized to move forward with a vote if a majority of customers give verbal or written protest prior to or during the hearing. However, the mailed notices did not include a ballot.

During the district board’s November meeting, public attendee Mike Neel alleged that the hearing should be invalidated until the district mails out a notice including a ballot to all customers. “The California Constitution explicitly states that when you do a Prop 218 hearing, what you mail out shall contain a ballot that includes your address and the owner can complete that,” he said.

However, district legal counsel Jim Worth said that for a rate increase, as opposed to an assessment, the increase is subject to Section 6 of Prop 218, rather than the section referenced by Neel (Section 4). Section 6 makes no mention of a ballot requirement.

Member of the public and IWVWD Director-to-be Stan Rajtora also told the board that while he has two properties that are connected to the water district, he never received a mailer. Unless 51 percent or more customers present objections, the board is authorized to move forward with a vote after the Dec. 10 hearing.

The rate increases come after the district’s most recent rate study “to account for continuing increases in the costs of water system operations and providing water services.” Additionally, the increases will help the district keep its Standard & Poor’s AA- credit rating and provide good financial footing in times of conservation.

For meeting and agenda information, visit iwvwd.com.

Story First Published: 2018-11-30