The rate change is aimed at maintaining the water system’s pipes, pumps and wells in Scotts Valley. People can ask questions and comment during a meeting Thursday, Feb. 11, at the city’s community center.
If approved as proposed, the increase will hit hardest for the customers who use the most water.
The three-tiered rate increase would take effect Feb. 15 and Dec. 15 of this year and Dec. 15, 2011.
In 2010, District Manager Charlie McNiesh said, 69 percent of customers in Scotts Valley would see no change in their water bills, while the highest-volume water users (6 percent of customers) would be hit with a 10 percent to 12 percent water bill increase during the months when the most water is used.
“The increases really don’t affect the majority of Scotts Valley water users,” said Chris Perri, the board president.
The following year, in 2011, 51 percent of customers would see no change in their water bills, and 5 percent of customers would see the biggest impact, a rate increase between 5 percent and 8 percent during the month with heaviest usage. The 2012 increase would be roughly the same as in 2011.
The proposed increase allows an exception for commercial and industrial customers that have implemented water-conservation measures, like low-flow toilets and energy-conserving washing machines.
Such a customer — a Laundromat, say — can apply for a flat-rate commodity charge on its water if it has water conservation measures in place.
“It seemed unfair to our customers to have to pay high rates because of the type of business that does what it can to (conserve water),” McNiesh said.
The district estimates that 15 to 20 customers could benefit from the provision.
The rate increase will not be used to hire new employees, directors say, though the district is already operating down one field-crew employee — a position that was frozen to save money.
“We run the district as economically as possible,” Cris Perri, the board president, said.
McNiesh acknowledged that district employees earn good benefits, but he said district management did not receive a salary increase in the past year, and staff members received only minimal cost-of-living allowance increases. All future employees will bear some of their health care costs, a change from years past.
He said money from the water rate increase will not pay for employee compensation.