Fresno city council members ruled Thursday night that residents must pay more for water.
Despite public protest at the four hour long meeting, the water rate hike was approved 5 to 2. Clint Olivier and Sal Quintero voted against the proposal.
The decision will invest $410 million to upgrade the city’s infrastructure. Residential and commercial customers will have to foot the bill and it will cause some to fork out hundreds of extra dollars each year for water.
The rate increase goes into effect September 17th. Then water rates will increase three more times over the next three years.
“With everything that’s come to me, I’m a supporter of it,” said Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau.
Councilman Steve Brandau was one of five city leaders to approve raising the monthly cost for water in Fresno.
Some residents supported their decision.
“Replacing and adding to our water facilities will protect future generations,” said Lee Ayres, a supporter of the rate hike.
But most people were against the idea.
“Reason being, people can’t afford to water their lawns,” said Ann, an opponent of the rate hike.
The city says it needs to make upgrades to ensure clean, safe drinking water. Its current infrastructure is also old and worn out. The largest project of the $410 million investment will be building a surface water treatment facility.
“The ground water table has been declining for decades. We need to reverse that by that’s making our energy costs skyrocket,” said Patrick Wiemiller of the city of Fresno.
Most homeowners are currently paying a meter charge of $13.51 a month and $0.61 cents per hundred cubic feet of water.
At the top out point of July 2016, the meter charge will rise to $19.00 and the quantity charge nearly triples.
It means the average current monthly bill of $24.49 would then be $48.34; an increase of 97%.
“This is still a great bargain compared to about anywhere else you go to live in California,” said Wiemiller.
Customers won’t see the rate increase until they receive their October or November bills.
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