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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 5:53 am | Fair 43º


Santa Barbara City Council to Discuss Water-Rate Study

The city of Santa Barbara is turning its attention to a water-resources plan by possibly conducting a $103,695 study on whether water rates need to be changed in the 2018 fiscal year.

The Santa Barbara City Council, at its Tuesday meeting, is expected to authorize a contract with financial experts Bartle Wells Associates for the development of water rates and capacity buy-in fees.

The agreement would authorize the Santa Barbara public works director to approve up to $10,000 for extra services that may result from changes in the study, for a total not to exceed $113,695.

Since the Stage 3 drought was declared in 2015, the city has required a 35-percent reduction in overall water demands.

Current water rates, which began in August 2016, account for a 35-percent demand reduction.

Given the uncertainty of challenges in meeting 2017 water demands, the city is considering increasing its water-conservation target to 40 percent.

Bartle Wells helped develop Santa Barbara's water rate model in support of the 2017 rate study in accordance with the requirements of California’s Proposition 218.

The proposed water rate for 2018 will consider a conservation hike up to 50 percent. 

A temporary drought-impact fee will be reviewed in a rate design that stabilizes revenue demands.

It is calculated to address money loss that occurs when conservation exceeds what was predicted when developing base volumetric rates.

The fee would be removed once the revenue generated by the annually adopted rates are sufficient to cover the service cost and water use.

Any changes in the rates must comply with the requirements of Proposition 218, which was approved by voters statewide in 1996.

Capacity fees are one-time fees paid for expanded or new connections to the water and wastewater systems.

The city has designed its rates in compliance with California Urban Water Conservation Council policies, with 70 percent or more of revenue coming from measure rates that vary based on water use, according to documents prepared by staff.

The city last updated its capacity fee in 2013. 

City staff is expected to update both the water and wastewater capacity fee in 2017.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.

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