Utility Fee Increase FAQ

Utility Fee Increase
Frequently Asked Questions
Fiscal Year 13/14
Last Updated June 26, 2013

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 (blue, tri-fold notice) was mailed to all Whittier property owners on April 23, 2013. The notice was also published in the Whittier Daily News on April 26, 2013 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.

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

    A. The fee changes proposed in the Notice of Public Hearing to Consider Proposed Changes to Fees for Sewer, Water and Solid Waste Services (blue, 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 11, 2013. The Ordinances to adopt the new fees were adopted at the June 25, 2013 City Council meeting.

3. Q. When will the new fees take effect? 

    A. The City Council adopted rates for the next two fiscal years, 2013-14 & 2014-15. The new fees will take effect August 1, 2013 and August 1, 2014.

4. Q. How many protests were received? 

    A. 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 11,122 protests for sewer, 5,669 for water and 5,550 for solid waste. The City Council received 305 protests opposing the sewer fee, 352 opposing the water fee and 271 opposing the solid waste fee.


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 
o White paper on sewer and water infrastructure needs

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.

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

    A. The Public Hearing Notice proposed sewer fee increases over a two year period to generate enough revenue to fund a target sewer infrastructure replacement schedule of 30 years. At the June 25, 2013 meeting, the City Council adopted an ordinance that will implement the first two years of a four-year plan for stepped sewer. Fee increases to generate enough revenue to fund a target sewer infrastructure replacement scheduled of 30 years. In order to complete the 4-year plan of fee increases, it will be necessary for the 3rd and 4th year increases to be the subject of another public hearing planned for June 2015.

The tables below show the sewer rate and annual maximum fee to reach the target revenue over a four-year period.
  

Sewer – Annual Rate

per billing unit (100 cu ft = 748 gal) of water

User Type

Current Rate

Rate Effective 8/1/13

Rate Effective 8/1/14

Proposed Rate Effective 8/1/15

Proposed Rate Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$0.53

$0.65

$0.79

$0.96

$1.17

Multi Residential

$0.53

$0.65

$0.79

$0.96

$1.17

Commercial-Industrial

$0.71

$0.87

$1.06

$1.29

$1.57

Qualified Low Income

$0.29

$0.35

$0.43

$0.53

$0.64

Private Development

$0.29

$0.35

$0.43

$0.53

$0.64


Sewer – Annual Maximum Fee

User Type

Current Max

Max Effective 8/1/13

Max Effective 8/1/14

Proposed Max Effective 8/1/15

Proposed Max Effective 8/1/16

Residential

$158.72

193.64

236.24

288.21

$350.45

Multi Residential

$95.23 per unit

$116.18 per unit

$141.74 per unit

$172.92 per unit

$210.27 per unit

Commercial-Industrial

No Max

No Max

No Max

No Max

No Max

Qualified Low Income

$87.94

107.29

130.89

159.69

$194.17

Private Development

$158.72

193.64

236.24

288.21

$350.45

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 of water per month this year will be charged $69.96. The annual bill for the same customer would be $85.80 in 2013-14, $104.28 in 2014-15, $126.72 in 2015-16 and $154.44 in 2016-17. 

        Sewer fee calculation for example customer: 
        11 billing units (BU) per month x 12 months = 132 BU annually 
        132 BU annually x $0.53 residential sewer rate = $69.96 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. 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. The Public Hearing Notice proposed water fee increases over a two year period to generate enough revenue to fund a target water infrastructure replacement schedule of 30 years. At the June 25, 2013 meeting, the City Council adopted an ordinance that will implement the first two years of a four-year plan for stepped water fee increases to generate enough revenue to fund a target sewer infrastructure replacement scheduled of 40 years. In order to complete the 4-year plan of fee increases, it will be necessary for the 3rd and 4th year increases to be the subject of another public hearing planned for June 2015.


The table below shows the water fixed fee component to reach the target revenue over a four-year period. 

Water - Fixed Fee Component

Meter Size

Current Monthly Fixed Fee

Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/13

Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/14

Proposed Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/15

Proposed Monthly Fixed Fee Effective 8/1/16

3/4"

 $ 14.93

 $ 20.45

 $ 28.02

 $ 38.39

 $ 52.59

1"

 $ 22.30

 $ 30.55

 $ 41.85

 $ 57.34

 $ 78.56

1 1/2"

 $ 49.62

 $ 67.98

 $ 93.13

 $ 127.59

 $ 174.80

2"

 $ 67.26

 $ 92.15

 $ 126.24

 $ 172.95

 $ 236.94

3"

 $ 144.57

 $ 198.06

 $ 271.34

 $ 371.74

 $ 509.28

4"

 $ 196.15

 $ 268.73

 $ 368.15

 $ 504.37

 $ 690.99

6"

 $ 307.25

 $ 420.93

 $ 576.68

 $ 790.05

 $ 1082.37

8"

 $ 321.30

 $ 440.18

 $ 603.05

 $ 826.18

 $ 1131.86


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 unit price charged for each unit of water consumed. The unit price for water consumed will remain the same at $1.76 per unit. The fixed service fee (“meter charge”) is proposed to increase.

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 meter charge. For example, a customer with a ¾” meter using 11 units of water per month currently has a monthly fee of $34.29. 

        Example calculation for water fee: 
        11 units x $1.76 commodity rate = $19.36 per month usage fee 
        $19.36 + $14.93 monthly meter fee = $34.29 per month total water fee

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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

19. 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 $0.45. 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.


Solid Waste Fees for Residential Customer

(Using a single 64-gallon garbage container)

Service Description

Current

(FY 12/13)

Adopted

(FY 13/14)

Proposed

(FY 14/15)

Solid Waste Collection & Disposal

$18.23

$18.50

$19.24

Curbside Recycling

$1.56

$1.58

$1.64

Street Sweeping

$1.68

$1.84

$1.91

Monthly Billing Cycle

$21.47

$21.92

$22.79

The City Council directed staff to return next year with a proposed fee schedule for fiscal year 2014-15 that matches the fees of franchised waste haulers and is no more than a 4% increase over fiscal year 2013-14 fees. Since the second year increase of 4% maximum was already included in the Notice of Public Hearing and considered in the June 11, 2013 Public Hearing, it will not be necessary to have another public hearing next year to adopt the fiscal year 2014-15 solid waste fees as long as any increase is no more than 4% overall.

20. 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 has 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.

21. 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 contracted 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


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

    A. It is estimated that Fiscal Year 2013-14 operating costs will increase slightly and the City must pay for ongoing landfill construction and closure costs and increasing environmental requirements.