Folsom/El Dorado News

Folsom hitting the reset button after fumble over water-rate hike

A mailer sent to Folsom residents details proposed increases in water and sewer rates.
A mailer sent to Folsom residents details proposed increases in water and sewer rates. The Sacramento Bee

After a pamphlet proposing water rate increases in Folsom sparked backlash from residents and City Council members, the city is slowing its process and plans to seek additional input from the public, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Steve Miklos "requested staff to conduct additional analysis of all the city’s utilities ... as well as allow for further public outreach," spokeswoman Christine Brainerd said.

The City Council, which is typically briefed on city proposals and discusses them before they are released to the public, was blindsided by the mailed pamphlet Monday, two City Council members told The Sacramento Bee. Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon called the miscommunication "absolutely inappropriate."

Now, the city is backpedaling.

"In short, we’re resetting, looking at context, integrating solid waste, and involving the public before moving to a next step," Brainerd said, adding that the city will hold a workshop "to obtain public input on a rate analysis for all three utility services – water, sewer and garbage."

According to the proposal outlined in the pamphlet, the standard residential home would pay about 1.5 times the current amount for water each month – from $15 to $22.70 by 2023. Tiered usage charges would initially decrease but then rise by 9-15 percent by 2023.

Some Folsom residents were angered by the potential rate increase, especially because it was proposed just as a massive housing development that will accommodate 25,000 people gets underway south of Highway 50. Some have speculated increased water rates will help pay for construction and transporting water to the new development.

The City Council denied any connection between the proposal and the new housing, as did Brainerd.

"The infrastructure south of Highway 50 would not be paid for by the current rates or proposed rates," she said. "Instead, south of Highway 50 infrastructure costs are paid for by the developers and/or landowners."

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