HAWTHORNE : City Weighs Plan to Raise Water Rates 10%

Hawthorne officials are considering a plan to raise water rates 10% for the remainder of this year. And rates could go up an additional 34% over the next four years.

A study revealed that increased water costs have been absorbed by the city, but consumers' rates have not gone up since 1989, said Charles Herbertson, director of public works.

Interim City Manager James A. Algie recommended the study in June after warning the City Council that the cash-strapped city could no longer afford to absorb the costs.

Under the proposal, the average single-family household that pays about $23 a month this year will pay about $35 a month by 1999. For large water users, including apartment buildings and businesses, the hikes could reach hundreds of dollars a month, according to the report.

The increases are necessary because West Basin Water District, which supplies more than 70% of Hawthorne's water, is paying more for less water from state water projects, officials said.

The proposed rate hikes initially would raise enough money to keep the city's water department from dipping into the general fund. The increased revenue also would be used to upgrade the city's water system, including replacing aging water mains and increasing the capacity of the water treatment plant, Herbertson said.

The council is scheduled to vote on the 10% rate increase Oct. 10.

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