What: Davis City Council meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Community Chambers, Davis City Hall
Watch it: Live on City Government Channel 16 on Comcast and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99
Follow: @TomSakash on Twitter; #daviswater on Twitter
The City Council will be asked Tuesday to put the finishing touches on the Proposition 218 notices that the city will send out later this month to inform all property owners in Davis of the upcoming public hearing on drinking water rate increases.
The rate hike is aimed to generate funds to begin paying off the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project, estimated to cost $113 million to the city of Davis and $245 million combined with Woodland’s share of the costs.
The Woodland-Davis project will pump water from the Sacramento River, treat it, and pipe it to Davis and Woodland, replacing each city’s dependence on deteriorating ground well drinking water systems, except during periods of peak usage.
Per the state constitution, public agencies that want to raise water rates must notice their ratepayers 45 days in advance of the public hearing on the proposed changes in order to allow them time to protest.
Davis residents will have until March 19, the date slated for the public hearing, to write formal protests. If more than half of the approximately 16,000 property owners in the city of Davis protest, the rate hike is blocked.
The public hearing will take place in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.
City engineers have estimated that the water project, scheduled to begin construction at the end of this year, will triple water bills for Davis water ratepayers over the next five years.
By city numbers, if the rates on the Prop. 218 notices pass, the average water bill for a single-family home owner using 15 hundred cubic feet of water (ccf) per month would jump from about $34 to $38.93 after the first proposed increase on May 1.
The city then would implement a subsequent rate hike on Jan. 1, 2014 that would bring that average bill to $46.29. By 2018, the water customer using 15 ccf could pay close to $100 depending on peak usage.
The above rates follow the five-year hybrid rate structure schedule the City Council approved in December.
If approved, under that structure, for the first two years the city would charge water customers on an inclining block-tiered rate structure, where ratepayers are charged a base fixed-fee determined by meter size, and then a variable-fee on a sliding-scale based on water consumption.
Then, starting on Jan. 1, 2015, the city would charge customers for water using the Consumption-Based Fixed Rate structure that breaks down a water bill into three components: a base, readiness-to-serve fixed-fee determined by water meter size; a uniform block variable rate based on water usage; and then a supply charge based on the customer’s previous year’s six-month peak usage period.
Whatever the council approves Tuesday, Prop. 218 notices will be sent out by the end of January, according to Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz.
The City Council wants to ensure that all property owners will have the notices in hand before the Yolo County Elections Office sends out the ballots for the mail-in election of Measure I.
All registered voters are scheduled to receive their ballots the week of Feb. 4.
Measure I will ask whether voters approve of the City Council moving forward with the Woodland-Davis surface water project.
Arguments and rebuttals for and against the project can be found on the city’s website within the city clerk’s webpage under http://city-managers-office.cityofdavis.org/city-clerk/elections.
Ballots are due by mail by March 5. They also can be submitted in person to the Yolo County Elections Office, 625 Court St. #B05 in Woodland, or at a drop box at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St., by 8 p.m. on March 5.
While property owners alone can protest the rate hike through the Prop. 218 process, as they are the ones who directly pay water bills in the city, the city plans to inform all Davis residents of the proposed rate hike.
It’s unclear how renters, for example, will be affected by the rate hike.
According to Dianna Jensen, the city’s principal civil engineer, the city will send out a mailer in late January to all residences that have Davis ZIP codes to get the rate increase information out citywide.
The finalized Prop. 218 notices and mailers likely will include: information on the five-year schedule for the proposed rate increases; the rate structure that will determine how much each resident will pay over those five years; the reasoning behind the need for the rate increases; typical bill estimations; a formula to calculate future rates based on personal usage; information about the public hearing; and information about rates, should the water project vote result in rejection of the Woodland-Davis project.
If Measure I should fail, the sample Prop. 218 notice included in the City Council packet says, due to various factors, that rates will still go up for the average property owner by 50 percent by 2018.
“The water utility is currently running at a deficit due to the deferral of rate increases scheduled for 2011,” the sample notice states. “Also, without an alternative surface water supply, the city must still invest in additional groundwater production facilities and infrastructure as well as demand management tools to meet consumer demands.”
To calculate current water rates, please visit the city’s website at http://archive.cityofdavis.org/finance/Utility-Rates/2010-2011.cfm.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash. Follow all Davis water news using #daviswater