NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED INCREASED RATES
AND CHARGES FOR WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES
PROPOSITION 218 RATE ASSESSMENT OVERVIEW
The Calaveras County Water District is proposing water and wastewater rate changes for all residential and non-residential customers. The CCWD Board will consider the rate proposal at a Public Hearing during its regular meeting on September 13, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. (new time). If approved, the rate change will go into effect on October 16, 2023. You are receiving this notification in compliance with Proposition 218’s requirement that all impacted property owners receive written notice of proposed rate changes 45 days prior to a Public Hearing.
Click Here for the Prop 218 Notice
In response to public feedback, the CCWD Board will now consider the rate proposal at a Public Hearing on September 13, 2023, at 5:30 p.m.
Basis of the proposed rates
The District is obligated to collect revenue sufficient to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the water and wastewater enterprises. These revenues enable the District to protect public health and safety and reliably convey and treat both water and wastewater. The communities the District serves depend on safe and reliable water and wastewater service for commercial and residential uses, as well as fire protection. Costs that must be covered through rate revenue include, among other things, electricity, equipment and supplies, treatment chemicals, debt service, regulatory compliance, and salaries and benefits. Additionally, water and wastewater rates help pay for the renovation and replacement of existing facilities to ensure current and future generations can depend on CCWD’s services.
Why are the rates changing?
CCWD worked with financial consultants to develop a five-year financial plan. The plan shows a significant shortfall between existing revenues and projected costs. The proposed rates close that gap and provide sufficient funds to cover the District’s costs over the next five years. The proposed rates are also necessary to maintain the District’s eligibility for millions in state grants and low-interest loans that will be crucial for the District to pay for costly upgrades to water and wastewater facilities.
After accounting for operational and staff cost saving measures, the study determined that a rate change is necessary primarily due to the following reasons:
- Cover the costs of rising inflation, such as chemicals required for treatment plants and infrastructure repair.
- The District’s s cost for electricity has more than doubled over the last 18 months and those costs will continue to increase.
- The cost of repairing and replacing critical, aging infrastructure has increased dramatically over the last three years.
- Maintain and satisfy reserve and debt service requirements.
What is CCWD doing to reduce expenses?
The District has initiated many cost savings measures including restructured employee benefits, reduced debt service costs, in-house construction projects, and new technology that improve operational efficiency. CCWD also continues to aggressively pursue grants to offset increasing operations and infrastructure costs. The District is currently implementing over $14 million in grant-funded projects plus another $13.28 million in direct federal funding through the Army Corps of Engineers. CCWD has worked hard to control costs and because of that has managed to keep rate increases low since 2014. Unfortunately, significant rate increases are now needed to cover the rising costs of electricity, supplies, and construction projects.
A Message from Michael Minkler, General Manager
A rate increase is among the most difficult tasks a water and wastewater agency must do. Especially one of this magnitude. CCWD has done everything within its power to control costs. We are fortunate to have incredibly talented staff who constantly seek ways to reduce costs while still providing safe and reliable service and maintaining compliance with ever-increasing regulatory requirements. We have also reduced the number of infrastructure projects that this rate increase will fund and limited our list to those that require immediate attention. Had we fully funded our Capital Improvement Program, we would have had to increase rates even more. In the past several years, CCWD has obtained millions in grants to cover some of our infrastructure projects. But despite these successful grant efforts and our cost-effective operations, our costs have increased dramatically due to circumstances beyond our control, especially over the last three years.
We understand the impact rate increases have on our communities. All of our Directors and most of our staff are local to Calaveras County, many are CCWD ratepayers, and all of us care deeply about the communities we serve. We don’t want to impose additional financial burdens on our customers, but we also understand that our communities can’t function without the services we provide. We take that responsibility very seriously and we are committed to ensuring CCWD is able to provide the water and sewer services for years to come.
Some households will feel the impact of the increases more than others. While we would like to accommodate the different financial circumstances of our customers, we are not allowed to. Water agencies have very limited flexibility when it comes to rates and are not allowed to set different rates for different individuals or categories of customers, such as people on fixed incomes. We will work with partnering agencies, however, to help address financial hardship wherever we can.
There is no sugar-coating this – the proposed rate increases are significant. If there was a better alternative, CCWD would pursue it. But underfunding CCWD would ultimately cost our communities more than these proposed rate increases. We need a generational investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure, and we ask for your understanding.