At this point with a favorable court ruling for the city on rate-setting, with monkey wrenchers getting a suspension of rates on the ballot and an uncertain rainy season (or seasons) pending, I would suggest that we simplify the argument with a straightforward solution to water rates. I recommend that the City Council suspend the consumption-based stage of the rate structure till we get a better view of drought effects.
Keeping a tiered rate structure in place serves two key purposes. First, a “use more-pay more” scheme is much easier for consumers to understand, regardless of the season, and very consistent with water emergency management needs.
Secondly, from a ministerial perspective, it will be much easier to deal with rate changes — there will be only a limited set of rates to increase — and much simpler discussions with the public.
When the water crisis has passed and the mix of surface and well sources is settled, we can return to the consumption debate. Right now, the entire structure should be oriented toward reductions.