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Water officials look at raising facility fees

Plan to be discussed at Tuesday's meeting

Posted: July 21, 2008 1:35 a.m.
Updated: September 21, 2008 5:04 a.m.
Local water officials want to increase the fees they charge developers in order to pay for capital projects needed to bring more water to more and more residents moving into Santa Clarita Valley.

Members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency's Planning and Engineering Committee are expected to review a "draft data document" tomorrow night that outlines why and how fees charged to developers are likely to be increased.

The fees are called Facility Capacity Fees and were set up in 1987 to allow the local agency to offset some its cost of capital projects needed to bring safe clean drinking water to a growing population in Santa Clarita Valley.

A special state law called the Castaic Lake Water Agency Act allows the agency to raise those fees according to a complex table of numbers reflecting the size of a growing population and the cost of the required infrastructure - such as new water treatment plants and pumping stations.

The Act also allows the agency to set the special fees in order to pay for enlarging the existing capacity of those facilities so that more water can be delivered to the retail water purveyors.

Tomorrow's meeting is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant on Bouquet Canyon Road, overlooking Central Park.

The proposed facility capacity fees are expected to provide the funds needed to pay for the cost of more than $250 million in capital expenditures earmarked for future water users.

The agency called on water specialty consultants Kennedy/Jenks Consultants to help draft the data document.

Consultants and water retailers looked specifically at two main areas of concern - referred to in their discussions as Water Service Areas - which include the proposed Newhall Ranch project and the Whittaker-Bermite site.

A month ago, members of the agency's Finance and Administration Committee examined revenue shortfalls when it adopted an amended budget for the fiscal year 2008/09.

The amended budget reflected thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

At that time, the agency learned it would be about $800,000 short on what it had expected to collect from developers in the way of Facility Capacity Fees.

Tomorrow's committee meeting is expected to merely review the data document.

The board is not expected to approve the proposed fee increase until next month.


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