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Helix Water District to Raise Customer Rates Starting in September

The average domestic customer (average Helix customer uses 24 units of water every two months) will see an increase of 4.7 percent or $5.50 per bimonthly bill ($2.75 per month) beginning with water used in September.

The Helix Water District made the following announcement on June 20, 2012:

On June 20, the Board of Directors approved the Fiscal Year 2012-13 Water Rate Study and authorized staff to send Proposition 218 Notices of the proposed water rate increases to customers and land owners within the district service area.

A public presentation of proposed water rate increases for water used beginning in September and October 2012 will be held on July 10, at the (4975 Memorial Drive), and a public hearing will be held Aug. 15, in the Helix Board Room (7811 University Avenue).

The average domestic customer (average Helix customer uses 24 units of water every two months) will see an increase of 4.7 percent or $5.50 per bimonthly bill ($2.75 per month) beginning with water used in September.  This increase will be reflected in bills presented to customers beginning in November. 

Helix continues to offer some of the lowest water rates in the San Diego region.

The primary reason for the proposed rate increase is the cost of wholesale water increasing by 9.5 percent, as well as the amount of water the district needs to purchase due to dry year conditions.    

The rate structure supports the district’s Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget in which the district has made a conscious effort to reduce expenditures to help minimize the rate increase and rate impact on customers. 

Helix Water District District has been consistently downsizing and becoming more efficient with fewer employees.  The FY 2012-13 budget is comprised of three components:  Operating, Water Purchases, and Capital Improvements. 

Water purchases make up 43 percent of the budget and are projected to increase by $4.3 million or 16 percent.  Operating expenses, which make up 46 percent of the budget, are projected to increase by $115,000 or 0.4 percent. Capital improvements, which make up 11 percent of the budget are projected to increase by $78,000 or 0.9 percent.

The cost of wholesale water continues to rise.  Although this past season has been dryer than normal, heavy rains and the local water runoff generated as a result of the previous winter, allows the district to use approximately 5,500 acre feet of runoff storage.   This stored water will reduce purchased water to approximately 27,000 acre feet for FY 2012-13.

The district is proposing to use approximately $3.1 million of cash reserves to help lower the proposed rate increase for FY 2012-13 in spite of rising wholesale water costs. Over the last five years, wholesale water has increased 110 percent.

Since 2009, the district has reduced the total number of employees by 18 full-time and nine part-time positions, or about a 10 percent reduction in staff.  In addition, there is cost sharing between the district and employees for retirement costs.  The district will continue to explore opportunities to reduce the operating costs of the district in order to maintain reasonable rates. 

The public is invited to attend the meetings where the Board of Directors will be discussing the proposed water rate increases.  The schedule of public meetings related to water rates is as follows:  

July 10, 6 p.m.
La Mesa Community Center
Present Rates to Customers

Aug. 15, 6 p.m.
District Board Room
Finalize Rates after Customer Comments

Visit www.helixwater.org for more detail regarding the FY 2012-13 Budget, Rate Study and Bill Estimator.

Kevin George June 22, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Exactly K! The translation of "increase in the cost of wholesale water" is: Increase in the cost of public employees and pensions up stream.
Barbara June 22, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Thank you "Komfort!"
Scott H. Kidwell June 22, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Helix Water District retirees with pensions over $100,000 per year http://lamesacitizenoversightgroup.wordpress.com/public-pensions/
Stan June 24, 2012 at 04:08 AM
It's the same story with all the government and quasi-government bodies like Helix Water. They wanted to "catch up" to the private sector and now it's time to "lower down" those unsustainable salaries and pensions. Hey HWD, you take no market risk. Who's your competiton? This will stop when the people can't afford to support you. At that point, you will call it class warfare. But in reality, it's just "unfair". Enjoy it while you can.
Komfort June 24, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I would like to here more on how this gets stopped in its tracks. Is Things correct? Eric, Ken, will this get a follow up story? Thanks.

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