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Facing little opposition, Crescenta Valley set for sewer rate increases

September 05, 2012

Sewer rates for Crescenta Valley customers are poised to rise sharply over the next year after the plan to raise rates received scant opposition at a public hearing this week.

The Crescenta Valley Water District Board of Directors is slated to vote on two sewer rate increases — an 8.2% hike that would go into effect on Oct. 1, followed by an 8.4% increase that would kick in July 1, 2013 — on Sept. 18 after holding the hearing on Tuesday.

The district received 15 letters in opposition to the rate hikes, more than the agency has received in the past, said district spokeswoman Christy Scott, but way below the 50% of customers needed to quash the move.

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The district also received one letter in support of the rate increases and six letters protesting hikes to water rates. While a water rate increase will likely be discussed next year, the requests on the table are for sewer rate hikes, so those letters can’t be considered in the board’s current decision, Scott said.

Crescenta Valley customers currently pay a flat monthly wastewater, or sewage, rate that will rise to $32.25 once the two hikes are implemented.

The new rate would still put Crescenta Valley Water District below La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale at $38.83 and $33.70, respectively. However, it would be higher than Burbank, at $21.01, and the city of Los Angeles at $29.88.

During the board meeting Tuesday, Dennis Erdman, general manager of the Crescenta Valley Water District, said the hikes are tied to past and anticipated future increases in charges from Los Angeles County for wastewater treatment. Those costs will increase 39% this fiscal year, he added.

The district’s projected operating sewer costs are about $3.3 million, while revenues are anticipated to be about $3 million, Erdman said, resulting in a roughly $300,000 shortfall.

The rate increases would generate about $150,000 during the current fiscal year, he added.

The remaining $150,000 would be covered through the district’s sewer reserve fund, which currently stands at roughly $3 million.

“The board could continue to operate going deeper into the district’s reserves, but very soon we would find ourselves being below the target level for our reserves” — or about $2.3 million — Erdman said.

The district doesn’t want to go below the target amount because “that represents our emergency money in the event that there would be some sort of catastrophe,” he added.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam

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