Admitting that they're paying for the "sins of the past,'' South Pasadena City Council members on Wednesday unanimously voted to hike water rates beginning in January -- an increase that adds up to a 128 percent jump from four years ago.
"Water was grossly underpriced for 100 years, and the current residents of South Pasadena are paying for it,'' said Mayor Pro Tem Philip Putnam, who voted against the rate increase as a "protest,'' but changed to an "aye'' vote noting there is no other option.
The city will jack water fees 14.5 percent in 2013, and a consulting firm has recommended they also increase water rates 14.5 percent in 2014, and 3 percent in 2015. The increases will offset some $40 million in outstanding debts the city has spent on badly needed infrastructure improvements.
And although residents could have stopped the fee increase with a majority protest -- 3,480 written letters objecting to the hike -- City Clerk Sally Kilby said she received 97. Of those, councilman Bob Joe said he has read 87. One resident pointed out the fiscal demand for conservation is going to turn the City of Trees into blocks of toast, while another bemoaned the difficulty of paying exorbitant water fees on a senior citizen's fixed income.