Rates unfair to Rancho Yolo

By From page A10 | February 22, 2013

Two weeks ago, we received the city’s mailer that explains the proposed water rate increases. The mailer gives a sample single-family resident rate applied to a typical household.

Davis’ Rancho Yolo senior community is assessed at the multi-family residence rate, which rates are not mentioned in the city’s mailer. We visited the city’s website to find the new rates that apply to us. And these rates also apply to the thousands of students and other apartment dwellers in Davis.

We were shocked, then angry, because the consequence of applying the MFR to Rancho Yolo makes the average Rancho Yolo household — senior, fixed-income, single-resident home — pay hugely more than the SFR household. Proposed water rates under Proposition 218 are:

* For Rancho Yolo (MFR): $1.41 per ccf (current), $1.81 per ccf (2013) and $2.24 per ccf (2014);

* For single-family households: $1.50 (current), $1.23 (2013) and $1.53 (2014).

Why will Rancho Yolo residents have to pay for all our water at a rate higher than single-family residences pay at their highest tier?
This is unfair because our average Rancho Yolo household water usage (13.6 ccf per month in the summer and 9.5 ccf per month average year-round) is considerably less than the stated Davis single-family household’s (17 ccf per month in summer and 11 ccf per month average year-round), as presented in the city’s Prop. 218 notice mailer. We live in small homes with minimal landscaping, usually one or two people per home.

These unfair water rate increases will have real consequences for many of the Rancho Yolo senior homeowners who live on small, fixed incomes. We have contacted all five City Council members, the city manager, the Water Advisory Committee chair and city staff assigned to manage the water project and water rates, none of whom could explain why there is such a huge disparity in water rates.

Rather, the responses have been equivalent to “We had no idea that the MFR rates you’ll be charged are so much higher than the SFR rates” or “the Davis billing system won’t allow a separate rate category for mobile homes.”

We can’t speak for the other Davis residents who fall under the multi-family rate, but it seems clear to us that Rancho Yolo residents should be under a rate category very close to the single-family rate. How can the City Council justify going forward with these rates, given their inability to clearly explain their basis to residents?

The city should establish water rates that are understandable, and fair.

Jerry Hallee
President, Rancho Yolo Community Association, Davis

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