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Citing maintenance, infrastructure needs, Burbank City Council OKs bump in utility rates

Though the increases were approved, by the dais, the rate modifications they will not take effect until the City Council approves the 2016-17 budget next month. in June.

Though the increases were approved, by the dais, the rate modifications they will not take effect until the City Council approves the 2016-17 budget next month. in June.

(File photo)

Burbank residents could see higher utility bills by the end of this summer.

During a meeting last week, the Burbank City Council voted 3-2 to approve increases to rates for electricity, water, refuse and sewer in an effort to maintain and improve the infrastructure for those utilities as well as pay for rising costs.

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Water rates will increase 3.4%, which is about a 13-cent bump a month for most users. Electricity rates will see a 2.1% hike, or about a $1.93 monthly increase. Both refuse and sewer rates will jump up 1%, or a 32-cent and 24-cent hike, respectively.

Councilmen David Gordon and Bob Frutos voted not to support all of the increases. However, council members took straw votes on each utility, with Gordon voting against all of the rate changes and Frutos not supporting the rate hikes to electricity and refuse.

Though the increases were approved, they will not take effect until the City Council approves the 2016-17 budget next month.

Burbank’s current fiscal year ends on June 30, and a new one begins on July 1.

Vice Mayor Will Rogers, who supported the hikes, said he understands that the costs associated with maintaining and improving the city’s utility infrastructure continue to increase and that the changes to the rates are necessary to provide a good level of service to residents.

Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy concurred with Rogers, adding that Burbank’s level of service to ratepayers is very high, and she reiterated comments made by Water and Power staff that the cost for water for local residents is among the lowest in Southern California.

“While there are folks who feel very strongly about [the rate increases], we have an infrastructure that incurs capital costs and maintenance to keep in good condition so we don’t have waterline blowouts like Los Angeles has had,” she said. “We have insignificant problems with our water system because of the costs to fix the infrastructure, and those costs don’t go away if we decide not to raise rates.”

However, Gordon said that the rate hikes could force local businesses to raise the prices on goods and services, and he said he believes that residents would feel like they are being punished after being told to conserve.

"[The city] is repeatedly penalized with mandates from the state and policies from this council,” he said.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio


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