Atascadero facing another water rate increase
December 27, 2011
Atascadero residents could see their water rates go up another 7.5 percent if officials at the Atascadero Mutual Water Company have their way. [AtascaderoNews]
On Jan. 11, the Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) Board will discuss if the rate increase is needed to continue to cover the city’s obligations to the Nacimiento Water Project. AMWC General Manager John Neil told the Atascadero News the rate increase is necessary because of the continuing recession.
“AMWC’s Nacimiento Water Project debt service payments are $2.6 million per year and operating and maintenance costs are $782,000 per year,” Neil said. “AMWC had intended to pay the entire debt service through the sale of new meters, which have historically averaged about 120 per year since the 1970s. We are currently selling approximately 20 meters per year.”
In Jan. 2011, the rates went up 15 percent outraging many residents. At the time, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Jim Patterson wanted the board to vote in a lower increase and revisit the issue in a year.
“I think the rates are justified,” Patterson told the Atascadero News. “What I had suggested was that they raise it a lower amount now but increase the rate later in subsequent years. I asked him why they didn’t do that, but they wanted to be sure they didn’t fall too far behind.”
The board elected instead to raise the rates in Jan. 2011 by the proposed 15 percent while also agreeing to revisit rate prices a year later.
The board consists of members Brien Vierra, D. Frank Platz, Jackie Lerno, Robert “Grigger” Jones and Leroy Davis. Both Jones and Lerno’s husband Ken Lerno were former business partners of then North County developer Kelly Gearhart, one of the primary suspects in a four-year FBI investigation into organized crime.