South Pasadena Water Rates to Jump 14.5 Percent in January

After two hours of discussion Wednesday night, city council approved a rate increase that computes to a 128 percent hike from four years ago.

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. 


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Kim Hughes December 06, 2012 at 06:18 PM
It is important to note that the report presented as part of the water rate adjustments included the implementation of a Water Conservation Analyst. The purpose of this function is to have a viable programs to assist all South Pasadena residents and businesses in conserving water through programs, rebates, incentives, as well as home and business water use audits. The goal is to help residents and businesses save water and reduce their water bills. No one wants to pay more for the precious commodity of water, but as the "Patch" article highlights, our city has lived off the water infrastructure investment of the past for over 100 years. Unfortunately, our system is falling apart, which requires we re-build for our future and this is taking place at the exact same time as our water sources are being impacted, causing rising costs. Once we have re-built our reservoirs and associated water infrastructure, we will have a system that should carry us forward for another 100 years. There is a lesson to be learned, as we need to remember to budget maintenance, so the City does not again find itself in this position of playing "catch up" at a very high price.
Alan Reynolds December 06, 2012 at 07:09 PM
We are learning the hard way that we have to be more proactive as a City. For too long we have put off expenditures and now they are costing more. As much as I hate to say it (and pay it), and considered writing a letter, there is no way around it. Without some other way to bring in income to pay for basic infrastructure, we are left with higher costs.
Jen Hutton Heger December 06, 2012 at 08:23 PM
SO glad we had artificial grass put in our backyard!
Richard A. Gutschow December 07, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I find the reasoning in the 128 percent jump in the rate questionable. Four years ago, we were led to believe that our rates would increase at about this amount. How does this figure? When this rate increase is publicized, then it must mean that it is the same for all, regardless of the meter size. If not, than there is an inequity in how the rate is computed. It should be pointed out that all the rate increases that we see now, do not agree with what we predicted last year. Who is responsible for providing these numbers?
Andy Krinock December 07, 2012 at 03:54 AM
The actual rate is near 200% when compounded. In addition you are charged a Utility Tax rate of 7+ percent. The City erred when they issued the bonds premeturely, costing a million plus in additional interest. We pay a utility tax, mistakes should be charged to the UT, not additional taxes. I believe that most don't really care how much they pay, the few who ask questions and comment are dismissed as conservative loons. Open your checkbook, it will get much worse. Monitor your Edison bill, be prepared for a shock.
Marvion December 07, 2012 at 09:51 AM
๑۩۞۩๑ No green water pools. No SPHS swim pool. Go green. Conserve water. Get rid of SPHS swim pool! ๑۩۞۩๑
Jones Foyer December 07, 2012 at 06:45 PM
So we will get Perrier from the tap now, right?
Donna Evans (Editor) December 07, 2012 at 06:47 PM
OK, so for you folks who've been kind enough to chime in, let me ask you: what does your water bill look like now? And have you cut back on the watering? I found quite colorful the comment from a resident who wrote a protest letter saying he/she worried the City of Trees would start to look like blocks of toast.
spidra December 07, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I constantly see people with sprinklers on at noon and the sprinklers so badly planned that they water the concrete more than they're watering the lawn. Fix that stuff *then* complain about the cost of water... We live in a semi-arid region with chronic drought. The water table is lowering here. The infrastructure is crumbling and the city has been levied hefty fines for pollution releases related to that. The days of cheap water are over. Tear out your lawns and learn to conserve.
Francisco Alvarez December 08, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I've asked a lot of people in surrounding cities what they pay for water and they are no where near our rates. If these taxes are for improvements will they ever be rolled back once the projects are completed.
JTSPO February 04, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Obiviously, the city lacks a master plan to project its needs for capital improvements in water supply, among other things. It is not rocket science folks!. That is the same issue every city and water district grapple with every day. This is the failure of the leadership and custodianship. Why the Director of untilities/public works did not see this coming? For years teh residents put up with buckled sidewalks, gatorback pavement and muddy tap water because the administrators and experts can not or are not willing to do what they were entrusted to do. How about taking some moneies from their payroll to pay for this shortfalls for their "oversights?" I want the council to ask some tough questions as where the accountabilites lie and what they can do to prevent this from happening again not just tax its way out of it.
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