SONORA, CA: The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board will review a revised water rate plan and lower proposed water rate increase at a Special Board meeting this Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 1pm. TUD water customers were notified in October 2011 of a proposed water rate increase that was originally scheduled to go into effect in January 2012 if it was approved by the Board. The Board requested that District staff revise the water rate plan after a lengthy public hearing that was held in December about the proposed water rate increases.
“The District has faced some challenges in our attempt to close a budget shortfall of nearly $2 million dollars. After extensively looking at all operations, including employee wages and
benefits, we have cut costs and expenses to an estimated $8 million dollars through the fiscal year 2014. Our management team and employees have all worked together to address the District’s finances. The result is proposing a revised water rate plan that will balance the District’s budget and offer a lower water rate increase to our customers,” states Peter Kampa, General Manager.
“In the October 2011 proposed water rate plan, our focus was to stabilize the water budget, provide minimal reserves, increase funding for critical infrastructure projects and also to get our customers to implement more water conservation efforts as required by the State. The first proposed rate plan also proposed to fill some unfilled field crew positions,” states Kampa.
The revised water rate plan being presented at Thursday’s Board meeting, stabilizes the
reduced budget, reduces the amount of funding available for infrastructure projects, defers
some costs into the future and does not provide funding to fill vacant field crew positions.
“Although we made strides to reduce the District’s budget and re-developed a lower rate impact to our customers, there will be an impact on certain services that the District provides. This revised water rate plan includes some deep budget reductions and our customers should be aware that not filling these positions will begin to increase water emergency response times, provide for less system maintenance, and could increase the occurrence of system failures,” continues Kampa.
The original water rate plan proposed an average monthly bill for a residential customer to
increase from $40.56 a month to $50.06, an increase of $9.50. The revised water rate plan that will be presented to the Board on Thursday, proposes an increase from $40.56 to $43.32 a month for a residential customer using 900 cubic feet of water per month (an increase of $2.76 a month). “The big difference with both the original and the proposed water rate plan is including 400 cubic feet or 3,000 gallons of water free per month and also focuses on water conservation. If a customer uses a large amount of water, typically outdoors, they will see an increase in their bill. We looked at an average residential family and their water use and developed this water rate plan to reduce financial impact on those customers. Also, including the 400 free cubic feet of water, it should help most seniors in the area who use very little water,” continues Kampa. The Board will vote on the proposed revised water rate plan at its regularly scheduled Board meeting this coming Tuesday, June 12th at 7pm. If the Board approves the water rate plan, TUD customers will be sent a letter informing them of the increase which would then go into effect starting August 1, 2012. The proposed water rate plan can be viewed at the District’s website, www.tudwater.com.
The Tuolumne Utilities District currently serves over 44,000 Tuolumne County residents. The District currently owns and operates 14 water treatment plants, 71 treated water storage tanks, two wastewater treatment plants, approximately 57 miles of open ditches, 157 miles of sewer collection pipe and 330 miles of treated water pipeline.