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Sewer fees rise across the board

Posted: July 8, 2009 8:57 p.m.
Updated: July 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A $500  increase in connection fees for new homes along with an 11 percent increase in service charges for existing residents and businesses was adopted by the Sanitation District on Wednesday.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District adopted a $20 increase to residential and commercial service charges, pushing the cost of the annual charges from $179 to $199 per home, said Dave Bruns assistant financial planner for the Sanitation District.

One-time connection fees for new homes were increased from $3,300 to $3,800, Bruns said. Industrial service charges were also increased 11 percent. The actual dollar amounts for industrial service charge vary depending on the type of waste the business pours into the system, Bruns said.

The increase in charges is due in part to the Sanitation District’s depleted cash reserves.

“We’ve drawn down our cash reserves over the last few years,” Bruns said.

The cash reserves were drawn down as part of a rate stabilization effort made by the Sanitation District, he said.

The new connection and service charges go into effect January 1, 2010.

Turmoil has swirled around the Sanitation District since it announced a 200-percent rate increase between now and 2012. The rate increase would have paid for a $250 million upgrade to the Santa Clarita Valley’s two treatment plants.

The upgrades are necessary to reduce chloride levels in the water released from the treatment plants back into the Santa Clara River. The current chloride levels make it difficult to grow avocados and strawberries downstream in Ventura County, Bruns said.  

SCV residents voiced their opposition to the rate increase during public information meetings and the one Santa Clarita City Council meeting. The protest prompted Sanitation Board member and Mayor Frank Ferry to delay the rate increase.

“We’re not in a hurry to raise taxes,” he said.

Any rate increase will hold until spring 2009, Bruns said. In the meanwhile, the Sanitation District will meet with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board on a relaxed chloride standard, he added.



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