Utility Fee Increase FAQ

Utility Fee Increase
Frequently Asked Questions
Fiscal Year 15/16
Last Updated June 22, 2015

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 Sewer, Water and Solid Waste Services (yellow, tri-fold notice) was mailed to all Whittier property owners on April 24, 2015. The notice was published in the Whittier Daily News on April 29, 2015 and a copy placed on the City website. Additional notices have been placed at various City facilities, including City Hall, the Community Center, Senior Centers and Libraries. The notice covered fee increases for two fiscal years (2015-16 & 2016-17).

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 Sewer, Water and Solid Waste Services (yellow, 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 June 9, 2015. The ordinances to adopt the new fees were also introduced at this meeting.

3. Q. When will the fees take effect? 

    A. The City Council is scheduled to hear a second reading and adopt the ordinances setting fees for two fiscal years, 2015-16 & 2016-17 at the July 14, 2015 Council meeting. If adopted, the new fees will take effect September 1, 2015 and August 1, 2016.

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 June 9, 2015. At the public hearing, the City Council considered all protests against the proposed fees. However, the City Council is bound only by those written protests submitted by a majority of the total number of affected owners, which would be 11,148 protests for sewer, 5,670 for water and 5,550 for solid waste.  A total of 21 protests were received.

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

    A. Tuesday, June 9, 2015 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 utility fee increases adopted by the City Council? 

    A. You may contact the City of Whittier Public Works Department at PubWks@cityofwhittier.org or call (562) 567-9500. 

        o Notice of Public Hearing to Consider Proposed Changes to Fees for Sewer, Water and Solid Waste Services 

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. At the June 9, 2015 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance to implement the final two years of a four-year plan for stepped sewer fee increases to generate enough revenue to fund a target sewer infrastructure replacement schedule of 30 years. The proposed maximum increases represent the final two years of increases to reach the target revenue. 

        The tables below show the sewer rates.

Sewer-Proposed Annual Rate
Per billing unit (BU)
1 BU = 100 cu. ft. = 748 gallons of water

User Type

Rate Effective 8/1/15

Rate Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$0.85

$0.91

Multi Residential

$0.85

$0.91

Commercial-Industrial

$1.14

$1.22

Qualified Low Income

$0.46

$0.50

Private Development

$0.46

$0.50

Sewer – Proposed Annual Maximum Fee

User Type

Max Effective 8/1/15

Max Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$255.14

$273.00

Multi Residential

$153.08 per unit

$163.80 per unit

Commercial-Industrial

No Max

No Max

Qualified Low Income

$141.36

$151.26

Private Development

$255.14

$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 $104.28. 

            Sewer fee calculation for example customer: 
            11 billing units (BU) per month x 12 months = 132 BU annually 
            132 BU annually x $0.85 residential sewer rate = $112.20 total annual fee

11. Q. Why does the Sewer Fee increase every year? 

        A. The City will incur 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. See the White paper on sewer and water infrastructure needs for more details.

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 June 9, 2015 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance to implement the final two years of a four-year plan for stepped water fee increases to generate enough revenue to fund a target water infrastructure replacement schedule of 40 years. The proposed maximum increases represent the final two years of increases to reach the target revenue. 

        The table below shows the water fixed fee component.

Meter Size

Current
Monthly Fixed Fee

Proposed
Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/15

Proposed
Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/16

3/4"

 $ 28.02

 $ 33.62

 $ 40.35

1"

 $ 41.85

 $ 50.22

 $ 60.26

1 1/2"

 $ 93.13

 $ 111.76

 $ 134.11

2"

 $ 126.24

 $ 151.49

 $ 181.79

3"

 $ 271.34

 $ 325.61

 $ 390.73

4"

 $ 368.15

 $ 441.78  

 $ 530.14

6"

 $ 576.68

 $ 692.02

 $ 830.42

8"

 $ 603.05

 $ 723.66

 $ 868.39

14. Q. Why will my water bill increase even though I’m using the same amount or
less water? 

        A. Your water bill is made up of two parts: a fixed service fee and a usage rate charged for each unit of water consumed. The usage rate for water consumed will remain the same at $1.76 per billing unit (1 billing unit = 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons) for the first block of water consumed in a 2-month billing period and then increase (except for multiple family residential, commercial and industrial customers) to $2.50 per billing unit. The fixed service fee will increase as shown in the table above. 

        The table below shows the usage rate component.

Customer Classification

Meter Size

Block 1
$1.76 per BU

Block 2    $2.50 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. 

            Residential customer example calculations for 2-month billing period: 

            Low use residential water customer (22 units per 2-month billing period) 
            22 units x $1.76 block 1 usage rate = $38.72 usage rate per billing period 
            $33.62 monthly service fee x 2 months = $67.24 per 2-month service fee 

            $38.72 block 1 usage fee 
            + $67.24 ¾ inch service fee 
            $105.96 total 2-month billing period water fee 

            High use residential water customer (50 units per 2-month billing period) 
            40 units x $1.76 block 1 usage rate = $70.40 usage rate per billing period 
            10 units x $2.50 at block 2 usage rate = $25.00 usage rate per billing period 
            $33.62 monthly service fee x 2 months = $67.24 per 2-month service fee 

            $70.40 block 1 usage fee 
            $25.00 block 2 usage fee 
            + $67.24 ¾ inch service fee 
            $162.64 total 2-month billing period water fee

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. About 93% of water service costs are fixed costs, and about 7% of water service costs are variable costs. The combined service fee structure was historically lopsided in that it produced about 4% of the revenue from the fixed service fee and about 96% from the variable usage fee. 
            • Customers’ water bills varied widely throughout the year based on the quantity of water consumed. This makes it difficult for customers to budget for their water bill. 
            • 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. The City will incur construction costs for upgrades and replacement of aging facilities like pump stations, storage reservoirs and pipelines. Many of our water pipelines are about 80 years old. See the White paper on sewer and water infrastructure needs for more details.

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 this year? How much? 

        A. If your solid waste service is provided by the City, your monthly bill will increase approximately $0.62. That figure is based on a typical single-family residential customer with standard service of one black refuse container and a maximum of four green waste and/or recycling containers.

Service Description

FY 15/16

FY 16/17

Solid Waste Collection & Disposal

$19.85

$20.65

Curbside Recycling

$1.58

$1.64

Street Sweeping

$1.84

$1.91

Monthly Billing Cycle

$23.27

$24.20

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

        A. Solid waste collection 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 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.

22. Q. The City of Whittier does not collect my trash. I am served by a private
solid waste hauler (Consolidated Disposal Service, Waste Management). Will my fees still increase? 

        A. CDS and WM are private franchised waste hauling companies who are approved by the City to provide solid waste collection services to City residents. Typically the City allows these companies to increase their fees by a similar amount to the City fee increase. Contact telephone numbers are listed below for additional information: 

            • Consolidated Disposal Service (562) 347-2100 
                (A Subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc.) 
            • Waste Management (626) 960-7551

23. Q. Why do Solid Waste Collection fees increase every year? 

        A. It is estimated that Fiscal Year 2015-16 solid waste collection operating and disposal costs will increase slightly. Annual increases cover actual costs of collecting waste and recyclables, disposal and/or processing, and compliance with State regulations. Cost increases have many components including labor, equipment, fuel, environmental controls at processing and disposal facilities, and the fluctuating market value of recyclable materials.