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Letter: Reinstate developer fees before rate increases

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Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 12:00 am

I agree with the letter “Mr. Vetica protests the proposed water rate increase,” Nov. 7. I, too, protest the proposed rate increases.

The city of Lodi’s management staff is proposing increasing residential utility rates across the board. The first year’s increase will generate over a million dollars in additional revenue, and additional rate increases are planned.

In Stockton, the outgoing city manager Bob Deis said, “Every city has astute characters that are out to twist City Hall for power and profit.”

In the city of Lodi last year, “at the request of the building community,” staff agreed to recommend to city council a 60 percent reduction in developer impact fees. The council voted and approved this reduction. In effect, residents are subsidizing developers to build homes.

Several years ago, the city increased wastewater rates to fund a $30 million expansion and upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant. The city now has the capacity for “build out” of the general plan, which will add an additional 30,000 residents to the city’s population.

Staff is proposing increasing wastewater rates to fund an $11 million project to build storage ponds that will allow the city to hold the water during the winter months, and then use the water the following summer for field irrigation. Field irrigation of wastewater allows the city to bypass some of the more expensive treatment stages that are required when discharging into the Delta. This procedure will reduce operating and maintenance costs at the wastewater treatment plant.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board, from day one, has recommended cities use field irrigation of wastewater; it’s the preferred option for addressing water quality control requirements. This alternative is not something new, and should have been implemented into to service before spending $30 million to expand and upgrade the wastewater treatment plant. This project will increase capacity, and further aid the development community in their quest to develop in the city.

In my opinion, council needs to rescind their decision to reduce developer impact fees, and re-establish these fees before asking residents for another sewer rate increase.

John Slaughterback

Lodi

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