The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved a 10-year financial plan for wastewater funds, which will begin with a 3 percent across-the-board increase in wastewater service fees in fiscal year 2019-20.
The rate adjustment and others that will follow are meant to cover future operating costs for wastewater systems, according to a city staff report for Tuesday’s council meeting.
A cost-of-service analysis by engineering firm HDR Engineering, which came up with the 10-year plan, determined that revenue increases of 5 percent each fiscal year over the next three years will be required.
In 2020 a single-family residential unit would pay $50.90 for using 9 hundred cubic feet of water, up from $50.32; or $54.27 for 12 HCF, up from $53.73.
The difference will be more noticeable for multi-family residential properties. For example, those with four or fewer dwellings would pay $68.10 for using 8 HCF, up from this year’s $66.54. Those with five units or more would pay $327.02 for using 36 HCF, which currently costs $319.06.
In addition to increased wastewater service rates, the council approved a surcharge to cover treatment for waste streams of “unusually high strength,” which includes septic tanks, portable bathrooms, industrial laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturing.
Out of three options, the council voted to enter into a payment plan with MarBorg Industries, which operates a septic tank and portable restroom hauling service.
The council passed the newl plan on a 6-1 vote. District 1 Councilman Jason Dominguez voted no, particularly because of its section on solid waste rates.
Under the new 10-year plan, tipping fees for sorting through trash in the Tajiguas Landfill, recovering recyclable commodities, and converting its organics into compostable material, will also increase. In fiscal year 2019-20, the tipping fee of $110 per ton will jump to $155 per ton, an increase of 11.6 percent.
Mr. Dominguez said the plan doesn’t incentivize Santa Barbara residents to reduce waste that ends up in the landfill.
“The first goal should be to not produce the trash in the first place and not use the single-use recyclable bottle in the first place. Because once it gets up there it’s not doing anybody any environmental good,” he said.
“I think our goal as the city that invented Earth Day is not to bury the stuff we don’t want in the Earth, but actually stop producing stuff that we don’t need.”
In other business, the council declared June 2019 Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.