Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 7:33 pm | Fair 73º


Local News

Goleta Sanitary District Board Approves Rate Increases for Commercial Customers

Despite pleas for more 'study and analysis,' officials approve imposing a 4 percent fee hike on office building owners

During a special meeting Monday night, the Goleta Sanitary District Board of Directors voted 4-1 to increase service charges for commercial clients by 4 percent.

The move will create a cost increase of $77.57 for 40 gallons a day per office unit, defined as 500 square feet of space. The fee is designed to utilize new definitions and revised usage attributed to office customers, while eliminating potential inequities within such classifications.

“Option 3b was developed with the underlying principal to take existing revenue of office usage and increase it by 4 percent, then divide it up among all buildings by square footage expressed in terms of office units,” said Kamil Azoury, a general management engineer for the Goleta Sanitary District. “We would collect $431,000 with an increase of only approximately $16,000 across the board.”

Other options on the table included using a standard office entitlement of 100 gallons per day per office unit, similar to a rate structure utilized by the City of Los Angeles, based on the recommendations of an ad-hoc committee formulated to create a new rate structure. But Azoury acknowledged that many office building owners had raised issues regarding the amount of entitlement, leading to the abandonment of such an option.

Another option looked at leaving the current sewer service charges unchanged, which many speakers publicly favored Monday night during the public comment period, in order to encourage the Goleta Sanitary District board to further examine and propose new rate structures for the following year.

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said that another year would allow the board to come back with a well thought-out methodology created in a way that office building owners could understand.

“We want to be supportive and work with you so that the business community doesn’t face a major upheaval with a huge increase to cost of business, which would disrupt our relationship with the district,” Miller said. “Give it the study and analysis it deserves, and we will give you the cooperation and consensus that you want.”

Beth Collins-Burgard of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck also expressed concern about creating proportional changes within the new rate structure.

“I’m concerned we’re not being proportional within groups, and I’m questioning whether square footage is still going to be accurate,” she said. “For instance, considering hallways and other areas which are not being used as office space but are being calculated into office unit space.”

Hank Bowis, general partner with Hollister Professional Park office suites located on the corner of Hollister and Patterson avenues, urged the board to act on an alternative option that would spread the burden of rate increases over all office buildings, rather than change nothing.

Jeff Bermant, owner of the building at 5383 Hollister Ave., also drew attention to the stipulation in option 3b that the $77.57 charge per office unit includes temporary fees, and would eventually be reduced to about $50. Azory described the reduction as a surcharge every type of building, not just office users, will pay in order to generate revenue needed to pay for the bid of a new facility.

“I encourage the board to put all of the numbers out to office users so they would be able to understand what they’re being charged and what the final amount will be,” Bermant said.

After nearly 90 minutes of discussion, board member Steven Majoewsky put option 3b to a vote. Josh Fox, who cast the lone dissenting vote, expressed concern regarding how many office building were actually surveyed and accounted for within the district. But Majoewsky acknowledged the board’s efforts to fix inequities among office building owners being charged too much versus too little through the creation of option 3b.

“We have thoroughly explored this and our constituents understand what we’re trying to do here,” Majoewsky said. “We were elected to do the right thing, and I for one believe we are all trying to do as much as we can here today.”

Noozhawk intern Amanda Garcia can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >