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HESPERIA — In an effort to stop a leaking general fund, the City Council voted to increase its water rates beginning New Year’s Day.
During its meeting Tuesday, the City Council, acting as the Hesperia Water District board, voted to raise water rates by 9 percent. The meeting came after a public water and sewer rates study workshop earlier in the day.
The rate increase, which will affect nearly 26,000 customers, comes after the city increased the rate by 4 percent nearly six years ago.
“Our general fund has subsidized the Hesperia Water District to the tune of about $500,000 a year over the last 20 years,” Mayor Paul Russ told the Daily Press. “We need our general fund to pay for roads, police and other service. It’s can’t keep the water district afloat.”
For the average residential user, the rate increase will equate to an increase of approximately $2.89 per month, with the rate remaining “the lowest” in the area, even after the increase, according to Hesperia spokeswoman Rachel Molina.
The increase moves from 50 percent fixed/50 percent variable to 55 percent fixed/45 percent variable by fiscal year 2021-22. During the workshop, the city’s consultant presented alternates to achieve full cost allocation in FY 2018-19.
“I’ve lived in Victorville and my kids live in Apple Valley, so I know Hesperia has the lowest water rates in the Victor Valley,” said Martin Altuve, 67, who lives in Hesperia. “I don’t want to pay an extra $60 a year, but it’s still a deal compared to Apple Valley.”
A Victorville Water District rate study conducted by NBS last year compared monthly water bills for single-family homes with a three-quarter-inch water meter in the East Valley Water District. Nearly 95 percent of water customers in Hesperia have the same size meter.
The rate study found that water customers in Helendale, Hesperia and Victorville paid just under $42 a month, compared to Adelanto residents who pay just over $62 and Apple Valley Ranchos customers who pay over $73.
“We didn’t want to increase rates, but it was the right thing to do,” Russ said. “In the last six years, our prices have remained static while the price of labor, material, piping, insurance, fuel and other supplies has gone up.”
During public comments, a handful of residents voiced their concern about the rate increase, with some claiming the increase is actually more than 9 percent.
Others said the price increase comes at a “bad time,” when Gov. Brown may ask taxpayers and water districts to pay the tab for the construction of two large water tunnels.
The twin tunnel project, which has a price tag of $16 billion, would divert water from the Sacramento River and increase water exports from the San Francisco Bay Delta to the southwest San Joaquin Valley.
Source: Rene Ray De La Cruz, Daily Press