Water & Drought

The water district wanted to hike rates 83 percent. Residents said ‘no’ in droves.

Lorraine Messerer, left, and Marissa Burt look at signed petitions Friday, April 7, 2017 that neighbors have left at Burt’s house. Messerer has been working with Burt to organize opposition to the latest rate hike.
Lorraine Messerer, left, and Marissa Burt look at signed petitions Friday, April 7, 2017 that neighbors have left at Burt’s house. Messerer has been working with Burt to organize opposition to the latest rate hike. bbranan@sacbee.com

An Arden Arcade water district voted late Friday to kill a proposed rate hike that would have increased bills by 83 percent over five years.

Board members for the Del Paso Manor Water District voted unanimously after a contentious meeting in which residents and district officials repeatedly argued with one another.

The board was facing the possibility it could not legally approve the increase. That’s because opponents said they had gathered 980 letters from district customers opposed to the rate increase, nearly 100 more than needed under state law to kill the proposal.

On Friday before the meeting, General Manager Debra Sedwick said she had reviewed about 600 of the letters and found about 50 that needed further verification. She determined that one was invalid.

Under the proposal, the owner of an average-size home would have seen annual increases for five years, bringing the current monthly bill of $43.65 to $80, an 83 percent increase. It would have come after previous increases that raised rates from an average of $18 a month in 2009.

District officials said the increases are needed to upgrade long-neglected infrastructure.

Opponents complained that the district did not consider a more gradual approach to the improvements and said the district was not transparent in its discussions.

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