Only five people filed written protests of the Galt rate changes that will increase bills for most residents by 61 cents.
The main changes include water rates increasing by $3.43 a month while the wastewater treatment plant upgrade fee went down by $3.43, essentially canceling each other out, Public Works Director Gregg Halladay said.
The Galt City Council voted unanimously to make the rate changes at Tuesday's meeting. Because it was a change in utility costs, the city was required to inform all ratepayers and if a majority protested the changes, the council would not be able to approve them.
No one spoke out against the rate changes at the meeting, but resident Shawn Farmer did ask the council to look outside the box to find ways to reduce city fees for residents.
Mayor Barbara Payne thanked city staff for their hard work.
"We all know how painful it is to have any increase in any rate, especially a utility rate, where you can't just go shop elsewhere," she said.
Water rates needed to be increased 15 percent to $26.30 a month for an average resident in part because of state-mandated upgrades to treat the city's water supply for arsenic, Halladay said.
Besides installing the actual equipment, the city has ongoing chemical and maintenance staff costs, he said. The city also plans to dig deeper wells that bypass the arsenic.
Also, because of the economy, the council only raised water rates 3 percent in 2009 even though staff recommended a 7.5 percent increase. In 2010, the council decreased rates 0.5 percent.
To even out bills, the council could decrease the wastewater treatment plant upgrade fee to $21.57.
Now that the wastewater treatment plant is finished, the city has a better handle on the costs to pay debt service on the State Revolving Fund loan. It also has re-estimated operation and maintenance costs of the new plant.
Other changes include:
- Trash rates: Rates will increase $0.61 a month to $23.11 for a normal residential customer, or 2.7 percent.
The increase this year is because the cost for fuel and vehicle maintenance is going up. Also, the company is expecting costs at the landfill to increase.
- Stormwater service rates: Rates for Tier 1 residents will not change. Tier 2 rates will go up $0.06 to $6.46 per month. Tier 2 is for all homes built since 2003.