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Council to rule on water rate increases

Plan suggests hikes through 2015 to keep Glendale Water & Power afloat.

November 29, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
(File photo )

With the city’s water utility $13.5 million in the red, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a plan Tuesday that could include raising rates incrementally through 2015.

Also included in the list of options to raise revenue is issuing a bond that, combined with recommended water rate increases that would boost revenues by 3% a year, would build an $11-million reserve and jumpstart badly needed capital improvements, according to a city report.

Residential customer rates under the plan would change depending on the amount of water used, according to a tiered structure. Commercial water rates would not be tiered.

Some council members on Monday said they’re on the fence about the change.

“I’m torn,” said Councilman Ara Najarian. “I’m balancing between the impact of an additional cost on our residents for our water service, but also aware we have to improve our infrastructure for the water delivery.”

Councilman Frank Quintero said he’s for a tiered rate structure, but hasn’t made his decision yet about increasing rates.

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“I’m having issues trying to justify it,” he said.

Glendale Water & Power officials told the City Council in September that without a rate hike, the utility would be on shaky financial ground.

Nearby Crescenta Valley Water District is set to raise its water rates in January by 8.2%, followed by a 3.1% increase in July.

Both Glendale and Crescenta Valley point to the increased cost of imported water and deferred capital improvements as reasons for the need to boost revenues. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been steadily ratcheting up the rates charged to member utilities and is expected to do so again in the near future.

People using less water due to conservation efforts, as well as smart-grid costs, have also been a drag for the utility, according to a city report.

In the first year, a single-family residence may see its monthly bill drop to $60.62 from $63.78, while a high-scale user would see their bill increase from $158.05 to $165.53, according to the report.

Without a rate increase, Glendale Water & Power officials have said getting a $60 million water bond to pay for needed capital improvements may be difficult.

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