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Utilities Rate Advisory Commission Public Hearing for Proposed Rate Increases.

The Department of Utilities, which provides the city with water, sewers, storm drainage, and solid waste collection services, has proposed two major rate increases to take effect over the next two budget years.  Beginning July 1st, 2009, rates are proposed to increase by approximately 16 percent, and will be followed by another 16.6 percent increase beginning July 1st, 2010.  For the average home, this means an additional $15 per month.  There are many factors that led to the Department’s proposal, including the failure of the Sacramento City Council to approve a proposed water rate increase last year.  Instead, the City Council created the Utilities Rate Advisory Commission to review proposals and hold public hearings to solicit public feedback regarding any proposed increases. 

The commission began holding meetings last December, and will hold a public hearing for city residents on May 27 at City Hall at 6 p.m.  The hearing will provide city residents with an opportunity to comment on the proposed increases that residents began receiving notices about last month.  The Commission will then report back to the City Council in June, when the Council will vote on whether to approve the proposed increases. 

As the Commission Vice-Chair, and a resident with my husband in the city’s Pocket area, I strongly encourage our community members to come out and voice their opinions regarding the proposed rate increases.  I am concerned that while the proposed increases will hit everyone hard, especially in these extraordinary economic times, without any increase in rates, services are likely be cut.

Even if the proposed increases are ultimately approved by the full city council, Sacramento’s combined utilities rate would still be among the lowest in the region. And, unfortunately, even with the increases, many capital improvement projects and reserve funds will fall short.

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