BRAWLEY â€“ BrawleyÂ is plagued with an aging water pipe infrastructure. Water main breaks are a common scenario. To repair and update existing structures, the Brawley city council was presented a Â rate increase forÂ water, wastewater, and storm water study for commercial and residential accounts.
Rate increases are needed to meet capital improvement project (CIP) needs.
The study laid out the CIPâ€™s in order of priority and was done by Bartles Wells Associates (BWA).
City staff, armed with the BWA study, is proposing a change to the current billing structure and to transition to a new rate structure with a universal consumption rate, regardless of account type.
Currently, the city has a commercial rate of $3.00 per 1,000 gallons and a residential rate of $1.38 per 1,000 gallons.
City staff recommended that accounts be identified and billed according to meter size. Resident meter sizes range from three-quarter inch to two inch. The number of two-inch meters is low and council wants to look at options to bring all residential meters under the same rate. Some commercial accounts do not yet have meters.
The recommended water rate increase for a five-year period would be 18% in fiscal year 2016, with an overall increase in five years of 34.1% to 46.4%.
The wastewater rates would increase by nine percent in fiscal year 2016, with the five-year increase being 18.6%.
Brawley’s rates are in the average range for water and wastewater rates ofÂ other Valley cities. The proposed rates would keep Brawley in the same range.
To raise rates, the city must initiate a Proposition 218 notification process. The notice involves mailing a proposed rate increases to all affected property owners and hold a public hearing. If more than 50% of the property owners submit written protests against the proposed rates, the increase cannot be adopted.
“We are here to do the peoples business,” said Councilman Don Campbell. “If we have to raise rates to keep up with maintenance of our infrastructure, we must do the hard work, to do what is best for our city.”
However, upon hearing the proposed rate increases, council directedÂ city staff to come up with more ideas.
Staff will bring some new options for the rate increases to the next city council meeting.