Utility Fee Increase FAQ

Utility Fee Increase
Frequently Asked Questions
Fiscal Year 17/18
Last Updated April 27, 2017

GENERAL INFORMATION

1. Q. How was the public notified about the proposed fee increases? 

    A. The Notice of Public Hearing to Consider Proposed Changes to Fees for Water Services (green, tri-fold notice) will be mailed to all Whittier property owners by March 10, 2017. The notice was published in the Whittier Daily News on March 10, 2017 and a copy placed on the City website. Additional notices were placed at various City facilities, including City Hall, the Community Center, Senior Centers and Libraries. The notice covered fee increases for two fiscal years (2017-18 & 2018-19).

2. Q. When and how are new utility fees adopted? 

    A. The fees proposed in the Notice of Public Hearing to Consider Proposed Changes to Fees for Water Services (green, tri-fold notice) list the maximum amount the fees can be increased without another notice and public hearing. The Public Hearing to hear and consider all public testimony and protests was held in City Council Chambers on April 25, 2017.

3. Q. When will the fees take effect? 

    A. For Fiscal Year 2017-18, the new fees are scheduled to take effect August 1, 2017.  Fiscal Year 2018-19 fees will take effect August 1, 2018.

4. Q. How can I protest the proposed fees? 

    A. Protests to the proposed fee increases had to be delivered in writing to the City Clerk, City of Whittier, 13230 Penn Street, Whittier, CA 90602, prior to the conclusion of the public hearing on April 25, 2017.

5. Q. When and where was the public hearing be to consider changes to water fees? 

    A. Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. 
        City Council Chamber 
        City Hall (Second Floor) 
        13230 Penn Street, Whittier


6. Q. How can I get additional information on the water fee increase? 

    A. You may contact the City of Whittier Public Works Department at PubWks@cityofwhittier.org or call (562) 567-9500 or view the Notice of Public Hearing and/or Resolution below. 

SEWER

7. Q. I don’t see a sewer fee on my water/solid waste bill. How do I pay the
sewer fee? 

    A. The sewer fee is included annually on your property tax bill issued by the County of Los Angeles itemized as “Sewer Svc Chg”.

8. Q. My property is on a septic tank. Am I still charged a sewer fee? 

    A. The sewer fee is waived if your property is not hooked up to the sewer system. There are only a few properties in Whittier served by private septic tanks.

9. Q. How much will the Sewer Fee increase? 

    A. There is no proposed increase to sewer fees for fiscal year 2017-18.

        The tables below show the current sewer rates.

Sewer – Annual Rate per billing unit (BU) (1 BU=100 cu ft = 748 gal) of water

User Type

Current Rate Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$0.91

Multi Residential

$0.91

Commercial-Industrial

$1.22

Qualified Low Income

$0.50

Private Development

$0.50

Sewer – Annual Maximum Fee

User Type

Current Max Fee Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$273.00

Multi Residential

$163.80 per unit

Commercial-Industrial

No Max

Qualified Low Income

$151.26

Private Development

$273.00

10. Q. How is the sewer fee calculated? 

        A. Sewer fees are based on water consumption so they vary widely according to the amount of water consumed. Under the current sewer rate, a single-family residential customer using 11 billing units (1 billing unit = 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons) of water per month this year will be charged $120.12. 

            Sewer fee calculation for example customer: 
            11 billing units (BU) per month x 12 months = 132 BU annually 
            132 BU annually x $0.91 residential sewer rate = $120.12 total annual fee

11. Q. What does the Sewer Fee fund? 

        A. The Sewer Fee funds construction costs for sewer rehabilitation/replacement of our aging system. Many of our sewer pipelines are about 60-80 years old, and some even older. Also, recent State legislation aimed at improving water quality required the City adopt a Sewer System Management Plan that reduces sewer overflows due to blockages and broken pipes. The City could face stiff financial penalties and third party lawsuits for not pursuing the needed system rehabilitation/replacement identified in the Sanitary Sewer Management Plan.

12. Q. How do I qualify for the sewer discount? 

        A. Whittier property owners with a combined gross income of all members of the family or household residing together of less than twenty-nine thousand five hundred fifty dollars ($29,550) for the prior calendar year and has been approved for the City’s utility users tax exemption are qualified to receive the discount. For more information on applying for the City’s utility users tax exemption call the Treasurer’s Office at (562) 567-9850.

WATER

13. Q. Will water fees increase this year? How much? 

        A. At the April 25, 2017 meeting, the City Council held a public hearing and approved a resolution to implement an increase to the water usage rate to offset increased water supply costs. The current Block 1 rate is $1.76 per billing unit (BU) and Block 2 is $2.50 per BU. The fixed service fee portion of the water bill will remain unchanged.

        The table below shows the water usage rate increase.

Customer Classification

Meter Size

August 1, 2017

Block 1

$1.89 per BU

August 1, 2017

Block 2

$2.63 per BU

Single Family Residential

¾”

Up to 40 BU

Over 40 BU

1”

Up to 56 BU

Over 56 BU

1 ½”

Up to 140 BU

Over 140 BU

2”

Up to 466 BU

Over 466 BU

3”

Up to 642 BU

Over 642 BU

Multiple Family Residential

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Commercial/ Institutional

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Industrial

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Landscape

¾”

Up to 40 BU

Over 40 BU

1”

Up to 56 BU

Over 56 BU

1 ½”

Up to 140 BU

Over 140 BU

2”

Up to 466 BU

Over 466 BU

3”

Up to 642 BU

Over 642 BU

4”

Up to 886 BU

Over 886 BU



Customer Classification

Meter Size

August 1, 2018

Block 1

$1.99 per BU

August 1, 2018

Block 2

$2.73 per BU

Single Family Residential

¾”

Up to 40 BU

Over 40 BU

1”

Up to 56 BU

Over 56 BU

1 ½”

Up to 140 BU

Over 140 BU

2”

Up to 466 BU

Over 466 BU

3”

Up to 642 BU

Over 642 BU

Multiple Family Residential

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Commercial/ Institutional

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Industrial

All Sizes

Unlimited

N/A

Landscape

¾”

Up to 40 BU

Over 40 BU

1”

Up to 56 BU

Over 56 BU

1 ½”

Up to 140 BU

Over 140 BU

2”

Up to 466 BU

Over 466 BU

3”

Up to 642 BU

Over 642 BU

4”

Up to 886 BU

Over 886 BU



15. Q. How is my water fee calculated? 

        A. Water fees are calculated by multiplying the usage rate by the water usage and adding the service fee. 

Median residential water customer (24 Units per 2-month billing period) from a ¾” meter:
24 BU x $1.89 (Block 1 Usage Rate) = $45.36 [Usage Charge]
(¾” meter is $40.35 per month)
$40.35 x 2 (months) = $80.70 [Billing Period Service Fee]

   [Usage Charge]                 $ 45.36
+ [Billing Period Service Fee] $ 80.70
                                          $126.06

High use residential water customer (50 Units per 2-month billing period) from a ¾” meter:

40 BU x $1.89 = $ 75.60
+ 10 BU x 2.63 = $ 26.30
$101.90 [Usage Charge]
$40.35 x 2 (months) = $80.70 [Billing Period Service Fee] 

   [Usage Charge]                $101.90
+ [Billing Period Service Fee] $ 80.70 
                                         $182.60

Commercial water customer (100 Units per 2-month billing period) from a 2” meter:
100 BU x $1.89 = $189 [Usage Charge]
(2” meter is $181.79 per month)
$181.79 x 2 (months) = $363.58 [Billing Period Service Fee] 

   [Usage Charge]                 $ 189.00
+ [Billing Period Service Fee] $ 363.58
                                          $ 552.58



16. Q. Why is the service fee on my water bill so high compared to the usage rate? 

        A. Water service fees consist of both a fixed component associated with water meter size, and a variable component based on the volume of water consumption. The fixed service fee reflects the fixed costs of making water service available (e.g., pipes in the ground). The variable usage rate is a rate multiplied by measured water volumes and it reflects the cost of service that varies with consumption and the value of the water (e.g., cost of developing the water supply and the energy used in pumping the water to the consumer). Historically, Whittier had an artificially low fixed service fee, and a relatively high usage rate. This resulted in a number of problems including: 

            • The cost of providing water service was not reflected in the service fees. Over three quarters of water service costs are fixed costs.
            • Overall revenues were not keeping up with overall costs of service. Customers reduced their water consumption in recent years due to the economic recession, the statewide public information campaign for water conservation, and an increase in the production of water efficient fixtures and machines (e.g. low flow shower heads and toilets, and efficient clothes washers). With this lower consumption, overall revenues dropped significantly so that service fee increases were necessary just to keep pace with stable fixed costs. The service fee structure was actually penalizing customers for conserving by raising their usage rate in order to cover fixed costs. 
            • The large water consumers were subsidizing the low water consumers. On one hand, this could be interpreted as a financial incentive for water resource conservation. On the other hand, it could be interpreted as being unfriendly to business, and unfair to large water users who are paying more than the cost to provide the service. 

            In Fiscal Year 2011-12, the City adopted water fees to begin adjusting the rate structure by lowering the usage rate and increasing the fixed service fee to better match the actual costs of providing water service.


17. Q. Why do water fees increase every year? 

        A. Over the past four years the City increased the fixed service fee to reach a funding level to replace the water infrastructure over the next 40 years. Upgrades and replacement of aging facilities like pump stations, storage reservoirs and pipelines are planned since many of our water pipelines are about 80 years old. The current increase to the water usage rate will offset the increased water supply costs. These water supply (groundwater related) cost increases are from the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, Water Replenishment District, and the Water Quality Authority.

18. Q. Do I qualify for a low income water discount? How do I apply? 

        A. Water customers served by the City with a combined gross income of all members of the family or household residing together of less than twenty-nine thousand five hundred fifty dollars ($29,550) for the prior calendar year and has been approved for the City’s utility users tax exemption qualify for the $6 per month low income water discount. For more information on applying for the City’s utility users tax exemption call the Treasurer’s Office at (562) 567-9850.

19. Q. The City of Whittier does not supply my water. I am served by a private
water company. Will my fees still increase? 

        A. You would need to check with the private water company that provides your water service. Contact telephone numbers are listed below: 

            Suburban Water Systems (562) 944-8219 
            San Gabriel Water (562) 699-1041 
            Orchard Dale (562) 941-0114 
            Golden State Water (562) 864-8214 
            Cal Domestic (562) 947-3811

SOLID WASTE

 
20. Q. Will solid waste fees increase in fiscal year 2017-18?

        A. The current agreements the City has with Republic Services and Athens Services do not call for a fee increase during fiscal year 2017-18. For single-family residential customers the cost for solid waste collection, disposal and recycling will remain at $22.37 per month and $1.84 per month for street sweeping for a total monthly fee of $24.21.

21. Q. Do I qualify for a solid waste collection discount? How do I apply? 

        A. Solid waste collection customers with a combined gross income of all members of the family or household residing together of less than twenty-nine thousand five hundred fifty dollars ($29,550) for the prior calendar year and have been approved for the City’s utility users tax exemption will qualify for the $5 per month discount. For more information on applying for the City’s utility users tax exemption call the Treasurer’s Office at (562) 567-9850. 

            As of July 1, 2016, 10% discounts were made available for low income seniors and active military members. Seniors must be 62 years of age or older, be head of household and qualify for Supplemental Social Security Income. Active military members must maintain the property as his or her permanent residence while stationed away from home. These discounts to not apply to charges for additional carts, temporary bin services or temporary roll-off service. Call your solid waste service provider to apply.
            
            Athens Services    (888) 336-6100
            Republic Services    (800) 299-4898

22. Q. Who is servicing my residence/business with solid waste collection and recycling services as of July 1, 2016?

        A. Athens Services and Republic Services are private franchised waste hauling companies who were approved by the City to provide solid waste collection and recycling services to City residents and businesses for the period of July 1, 2016 - October 31, 2017. Athens serves the west side of the City and Republic serves the east side of the City with the dividing line being Ocean View Ave. with a few exceptions. Both companies are responsible for servicing all containers (trash, green waste & recycling) in their service area.

            Athens Services    (888) 336-6100
            Republic Services    (800) 299-4898