City council to vote on water rate increase Tuesday

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SAN DIEGO — City council is expected to vote on a nearly 20% increase to water rates for San Diego residents.

If approved, this would increase rates 10.2% beginning Dec. 1, 2023, then up to an additional 8.7% beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

Mayor Todd Gloria said this would equate to an approximate $12 increase to the average residents’ monthly bill.

“This is providing water and sewer services to basically 300,000 addresses in the city or running the public utilities for the 8th largest city in the country,” Gloria said in an interview with FOX 5 Monday.

City officials have said the reason for the hike is increased rates from the San Diego County Water Authority that are being passed down to the customers, plus treatments and infrastructure.

Gloria said the water authority had initially proposed a 14% increase, but the city was able to negotiate them down to a 9% increase in rates.

“In this particular case the city has no better option than to pursue this rate adjustment, not doing this will cost taxpayers more in the long run,” Gloria said.

He made the comparison of a leaking roof at home, and said it costs less to get it repaired before water starts flooding the home. He said this is the better option for taxpayers.

According to the city, a study found “that if the City’s water rates remain unchanged, there will not be enough revenue to provide necessary water services for fiscal years 2024 and 2025.”

“Complaints about the city’s water bills is one of my top issues I hear about from my constituents, I have a four-inch binder in my office full of complaints from constituents about either being overbilled, incorrectly billed,” Councilmember Marni von Wilpert said. “I am really sick and tired of hearing over and over that this issue is going to be fixed, it should have already been fixed.”

Residents have been able to express their concerns at public forums in the city at three meetings over the last three months, beginning in July and ending with a public hearing in Pacific Beach on Sept. 12. During that time and over the years, FOX 5 has learned of ongoing customer service complaint issues.

“Right now as mayor, I am not happy with the state of our public utilities customer service. We are getting better but we are not where we need to be yet. These water rate adjustments are intended to help us address that,” Gloria added.

City council plans to hold the public hearing and then vote on the proposal beginning Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego.

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