Water Costs, Rates Rising In La Mesa

LA MESA -- We had a wet winter. Local residents continue to conserve water at a great rate. And water rates are headed up again.
The Helix Water District Board heard the rate study report Wednesday which included a recommendation of a 5.9 percent water rate increase for the 2011/12 fiscal year. That will mean an increase of about $6.46 more on an average residential bi-monthly water bill. (You can estimate your own water bill here.)
Water district staff said the recommended increase would have been higher without the wet winter, which has increased the local water supply and reduced the amount the district must import. However, the district continues to pay more for the vast majority of its water which is imported. Rates for imported water are up 16.5 percent and are expected to rise 12.2 percent in 2012, 8.2 percent in 2013, 8.4 percent in 2014 and 7.8 percent in 2015.
While the increasing price and rates continue to inspire conservation, the fixed costs of operating the distribution system require rates, which are linked to consumption, rise to generate the revenue needed to cover the fixed costs.
The board meets again Thursday at 9 a.m. to review the overall budget which currently projects no increase for workers' pay, but a 14 percent increase in benefits. The increasing cost of medical insurance and increases in retirement payments required by the state pension system are also putting pressure on the budget. Public hearings will be set on the water rates in the coming weeks. Wednesday, La Mesa resident Wade Stone criticized the board for maintaining a three-tiered system that charges high rates to heavier water users. Much of the conservation these days, he said, is being done by larger property owners who are continuing to be punished with the highest rates.

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Comment by David Smyle on June 4, 2011 at 12:40am

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ne more reason to fire (vote them out) Directors Smith, Linden and Muse in November 2012.  They had a chance to make major changes to the cost of employee benefits during the recent MOU but chose not to make the employees pay any portion of their medical, dental, vision, or life insurance (that's right, we rate payers pay 100% of employee and their dependents medical coverage) nor make any changes to the pension formula for new employees.  As far as the statement the employees would not be getting any pay increase, that is a lie since the MOU just approved (by all Directors except Kathleen Hedberg) gives the employees a 2% cost of living increase in fiscal year 2012 and another 2% COL increase in 2013 to offset the employee required contribution to their own pensions of 2% for each of those years making the change a zero effect on cost reductions to the rate payers.  The HWD touts the fact they have reduced payroll by 11 position from attrition and no new hires.  I guess we were overpaying for many years for those positions since the District seems to be running fine without them and we should thank them for not wasting our money on excess employees.  Would we still need an increase in rates?  Maybe but it could be less if the Board was not an extension of the employees and actually represented the people who put them in office.  Remember they hired two employees of HWD to negotiate on behalf of the ratepayers against the same group of employees they belong to and the Board also benefits from  he same benefit coverages the employees do so there is an built in conflict of interest.  Why should a part time Board get the benefits of a full time employee when they only actually meet or work on behalf of the ratepayers maybe 10 days a month?  Wake up people!! VOTE NO when the notice of increases come out later this summer as it is your only chance to stop the increase they don't need.  We are doing our part conserving water and the HWD has had huge surpluses the last two years to pay for the increase.

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