Homes to see higher sewer rate

Costa Mesa Sanitary District board members recently approved an increased sewer rate and decreased solid waste disposal rate for single-family residential homes.

Effective Monday, homes within the service area — primarily made up of Costa Mesa and portions of Newport Beach — will pay an $85.34 yearly sewer fee, or an additional $1.36 per month. The previous annual fee was $69.

According to the Sanitary District's website, the increase was needed because, as a recent wastewater rate study showed, single-family homes were paying too little while other types of properties were paying too much. The fee increase, officials said, ensures that all customers are paying an "equitable" and proportionate rate for the district's collection system. The change also puts the district in compliance with state requirements for wastewater collection systems, according to the website.

The sewer fee goes toward the maintenance and operations costs for the nearly 224-mile sewer main system. It was last raised for single-family homes in 2010 by 46 cents a month.

Rates for multifamily homes, commercial and industrial properties went down starting Monday because that group was paying more than their "collective revenue requirements."

From July 2014 through July 2017, rates for all types of payers are expected to steadily increase by 2% each year.

The residential solid waste fee for single-family homes is $18 a month — $1 less than last fiscal year and the second consecutive decrease since June 2012.

General Manager Scott Carroll said the district could institute the reduction since it plans to reduce its nearly $4.1-million solid waste reserves to about $2.3 million. The higher reserve amount isn't needed, Carroll said, because there are no capital expenses, such as refuse trucks and trash containers, that required it.

The five-member board also Thursday approved a two-year budget, which included $10.7 million for 2013-14 and $10.9 million for 2014-15. It was the first time in the district's 69-year history that it approved a two-year budget.

The budget includes a manhole cover maintenance program, new laptops for field staff and digital imaging of the district's records, according to a news release. It also includes $850,000 to rehabilitate some sewer pipes.

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