Property owners in two Morada neighborhoods got a reprieve from a possible tripling of their water rates on Tuesday.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors put a hold on a new rate structure so that property owners in Wilkinson Manor and Morada North can discuss the issue with county Public Works officials.
However, Morada North resident Lou Meyer, speaking on behalf of property owners at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, said they don't want any service reductions while the informal negotiations are taking place.
"We're all businessmen in Morada North; we start clean here," Meyer said after the board meeting.
Property owners in the two neighborhoods were alarmed earlier this year when they learned that the county planned to increase water rates to as much as three times what they are currently paying. But they were smiling while chatting with Public Works Director Tom Gau and Deputy Public Works Director Steve Winkler after Tuesday's hearing.
Winkler confirmed that there won't be any water service reductions until after his meeting with residents.
Morada, with about 800 customers, is divided into nine county water districts with a total of 13 wells, Winkler said. Morada has about 800 water customers. However, only two small neighborhoods are affected.
The affected area of Wilkinson Manor generally includes Quashnick Road and Freesia Lane, portions of Mosher Creek and the Central California Traction line. Morada North runs basically south of Eight Mile Road to Quashnick Road, and from the traction line west to the eastern Highway 99 frontage road.
Meyer said after Tuesday's board meeting that he realizes a rate increase is necessary due to needed water system maintenance, but not at the county's original plan to triple the rates, which equated to about $4,500 annually.
"I don't see how you can get through this without some kind of rate increase," Meyer said.
Currently, property owners in Morada North, known as County Service Area 46, pay a $1,500 flat fee annually. The county proposed reducing the flat rate to $848 per year, but add a $1.03 charge for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
Wilkinson Manor's current rates are $285 per year, plus $1.57 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
The rate increase proposal was squelched anyway because a majority of property owners filed a written protest with the county, Winkler said.
Winkler will meet with interested property owners in the near future at a Morada residence. A new proposal will be sent to the Board of Supervisors, which must conduct a new protest hearing based on whatever new rates are recommended.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.