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Water rates could be divided into multiple tiers

Instead of the current flat per-gallon usage rate, proposed plan would use series of tiers.

November 29, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Sprinklers at the corner of Idlewood and Matilija Roads in Glendale on Thursday, April 14, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Sprinklers at the corner of Idlewood and Matilija Roads…

The city’s water rates may soon be divided into multiple tiers based on the amount of water customers use. The change could come in the wake of a plan endorsed Tuesday by the City Council. If ultimately approved, the plan would boost revenues to erase $13.5-million worth of red ink and pay for badly needed infrastructure improvements.

Under the plan, the biggest water users likely will see higher rates, while those who use the least could actually see their bills reduced. City Council members also said they favored rate changes that would increase Glendale Water & Power revenue incrementally through 2015, starting with 2% the first two years, 4% the third and then 5% in the final year.

The rates changes could go into effect starting in March.

Officials say the additional revenue is needed to replenish a $13.5-million deficit for the water utility, where accelerated capital expenditures have outpaced revenue in recent years.

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Reduced water use due to conservation efforts, as well as smart-grid costs, have also been a drag on Glendale Water & Power’s ability to keep pace with costs, according to a city report.

The initial incremental changes endorsed by most council members Tuesday were smaller than utility officials had proposed — they wanted revenue boosts of 3% each year — because council members were uneasy about how customers would be impacted amid the lingering recession.

Councilman Dave Weaver favored an immediate increase of 3%, arguing that his colleagues were passing the buck.

“If things like this are too much, then you better move to a place where you can afford it — if you can find one,” he said.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian, meanwhile, refused to vote for an increase prior to receiving additional financial reports.

Under the proposal, single- and multi-family residences are to be divided into five and three tiers, respectively. The tiers reflect the costs of groundwater versus more expensive imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which is expected to raise rates again soon.

Under the option preferred by the City Council, an average single-family residence may see its monthly bill drop to $59.65 from $63.78 in the first year, while a high-scale user would see an increase from $158.05 to $164.30, according to a city report.

By 2015, average users would see bills increase by about $7.35.

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