Hearing on water rate hike set (December 21, 2015)

Phelan Pinon Hills customers may see big increase in February

PHELAN — Thousands of property owners in the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District may see an increase in their water bills as early as February.

The Community Services District announced that a public hearing is scheduled at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Phelan Community Center to discuss the proposed water rate increase that may come in multiple phases over the next few years.

If passed, a large, initial adjustment would come Feb. 1. That would be followed by future increases on July 1 of each year starting in 2016. The proposed maximum rate revenue adjustments are 37 percent for 2016 and 5 percent for each year from 2017 through fiscal year 2020.

The rate increase is needed because of decreasing water sales brought on by drought related conservation, resulting in reduced district revenues for the CSD that serves some 6,800 water customers. The proposed rates for the district’s water service fees are based on a comprehensive rate study prepared by an independent consultant, according to a PPHCSD letter.

Without an adjustment, current water rates will not fully provide the revenue required for the total operation of the water utility and will not meet debt coverage requirements related to existing outstanding debt, the PPHCSD said.

Revenues received from water service fees are used solely to fund the water enterprise.

The objective of the proposed rate hike is to fully fund the water enterprise by the end of a 10-year financial plan, without the need to rely on other District revenues, such as property taxes.

Also, the district said it needs to ensure adequate funding to address additional capital and operating expenses related to recently strengthened requirements for the allowable levels of Chromium 6 in water produced for sale.

Finally, as the result of the ongoing drought and statemandated conservation goals, the district needs to ensure that continued adequate revenue will be available to operate the utility, given further anticipated reductions in consumption, and increased costs related to enforcement and other drought programs.

Written protests by property owners may be submitted by mail to the PPHCSD office at 4176 Warbler Road, Phelan, CA 92371, or in person, or at the public hearing Jan. 20 at the community center, 4128 Warbler Road.

A public workshop on the proposed rate changes is scheduled at 10 a.m. Jan. 9 at the community center.

For more information, contact the district at 760-868-1212. The water rate study report can be obtained in person at the PPHCSD office or online at www.pphcsd.org.

Source: Rene Ray De La Cruz, Daily Press