The Santa Barbara City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on proposed wastewater and solid-waste rate increases.
City officials say a cost-of-service analysis conducted by HDR Engineering determined the wastewater system needs revenue increases of 5 percent each fiscal year for the next three years to cover the cost of operating, maintaining and upgrading the system, according to a report prepared by the Public Works and Finance departments.
“The result of the cost-of-service analysis indicated that adjustments are necessary to meet the financial needs of the system and increased revenue requirement, and to implement proportional and equitable rates for each class,” reads the report, which continues that fees for special water services will also be adjusted.
City officials note that revenue increases do not directly correlate with rate increases for most customers. A single-family residence with average water use will see a monthly wastewater bill increase of around 1.2 percent, according to the report.
An infographic released by the city estimates a single-family residence with a 5/8-inch water meter and 900 cubic feet of water use per month would see a 58 cent increase in fiscal year 2020.
A 10-unit dwelling with 3,600 cubic feet of water use per month would get a $1.56 rate increase.
The city limits volumetric charges because water use above a “cap” is likely the result of outdoor watering that does not flow into the wastewater collection system.
Staff recommends that the City Council raise the cap on multi-family developments with two to four attached units from 8 HCF (hundred cubic feet) to 10, and recommends removing the cap altogether on developments with five or more attached units and charging for all water use.
“Multi-family residential units have less discretionary water use because they typically do not have sizable outdoor watering areas, if any at all,” reads the report.
For solid waste, city officials propose a tipping fee increase to fund the development of the Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project at the Tajiguas Landfill. Santa Barbara County financed the project and the city, among other jurisdictions, agreed to help fund it and to send waste there. A tipping fee is an acceptance fee applied to waste received at a waste processing facility.
“The TRRP consists of a Materials Recovery Facility that would sort the trash and recover recyclable commodities, and an Anaerobic Digester that would convert organics recovered from the MRF into compostable material and biogas,” reads the report. The resource recovery facility is scheduled to open in late fiscal year 2020.
The proposed increase would raise the tipping fee by 11.6 percent, from $110 per ton of solid waste to $155.
A 2.3 percent rate increase to all customer classes has been proposed by staff to adjust for Consumer Price Index fluctuations. Staff also recommends a 2.2 percent increase on all customers to build solid-waste fund reserves that were depleted by the county’s tipping fee increase in fiscal year 2018.
Tuesday’s meeting begins at 2 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.