Monthly water bills for Glendale residents, businesses could increase

Monthly water bills for average single-family residences and commercial customers could increase by $17.98 and $16.67, respectively, by fiscal year 2017-18 if the City Council approves the rate cap they set earlier this month, according to figures released Tuesday by the city.

The council limited Glendale Water & Power's revenue increases to a compounded 20.4% over four years on May 13, but officials did not know at the time how that lid would impact individual customer bills.

The utility mailed out notices about the rate increase this week to customers.

The council, which expects to vote on new water rates in July, can select a new rate plan that will have smaller bill impacts than their proposed ceiling, but they can't go over it, according to state law.

Glendale Water & Power needs to increase water rates to fix botched ones which were approved by the council in 2012 even though there was opposition from customers.

The five years of water rates approved in 2012 overcharge some customers and undercharge others, officials have said. In addition, the utility made $8.8 million less than expected since the 2012 rates went into effect.

The water side of the utility was $9.9 million in the red as of early May.

Since the water rates are designed to encourage conservation as well as protect the utility from losing vast amounts of revenue when customers curtail their use, the rate increase will differ depending on one's customer type, meter size and water use.

While most customers could see their rates ratcheted up over time, commercial customers with a 4-inch fire line could experience a nearly 27%, or $157.65, drop because they were one of the most overcharged customers due to the rate errors.

Officials are pursuing legal action against the consultant that made the mistakes, Willdan Financial Services of Temecula. The city paid Berkeley-based Bartle Wells $130,000 to come up with the new rate proposal. The city paid Willdan $107,000 to design the 2012 rates.

The proposed rates also include an adjustable drought charge that would be triggered during mandatory conservation phases to protect utility revenues.

Community meetings about the proposed rate increases are scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the following dates and places:

— June 4, Sparr Heights Community Center, 1613 Glencoe Way

— June 5, Police Community Room, 131 N. Isabel St.

— June 18, Pacific Edison Community Room, 501 S. Pacific Ave.

— June 19, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 Grandview Ave.


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