by Photo by Sarah Berjan

The Chula Vista City Council approved a financial study during an April 26 meeting for proposed sewer rate increases to nearly 50,000 residential and commercial customers beginning July 1.  

Willdan Financial Services (Willdan), an independent third-party financial consultant, prepared the 2021 Sewer Cost of Service Rate Study to develop a 10-year financial plan, with a focus on the first five years to evaluate the financial condition of the sewer utility.

To meet the projected costs identified in the study, "the proposed rate changes include zero change through June 30, 2022, followed by a rate increase of 4.5 percent starting July 1, 2022, an additional increase of 5 percent starting July 1, 2023, an additional increase of 5 percent starting July 1, 2024, and an additional increase of 5.5 percent starting July 1, 2025," according to a city staff report.

The proposal reflects an increase of $8.91 distributed over four years. 

According to city staff, the proposed sewer rate increases are needed to fund the operation of the sewer utility, including costs to fund future capital expenditures, increased costs related to operations, maintenance, and increasing payments for treatment costs from the City of San Diego’s Metropolitan Wastewater. 

Chula Vista's current sewage rate is $41.37 per month, but in July, it will increase by $1.86. In July 2023, the increase would be $2.16; and in July 2024, the rate will increase by $2.27. By July 2025, the rate will increase $2.62.

The proposed increases would bring the current monthly rate of $41.37 to $50.28 per month by the second half of 2025. According to a city staff report, Chula Vista’s sewer rates remain some of the lowest in the region, and the impact on the ratepayer would vary depending on their water consumption. 

“Customers can have some influence on their individual sewer bill by actively monitoring and conserving potable water usage. Residential customers with volume rates based on the winter average benefit from conserving during the winter months of November through April,” a staff report reads. 

One public speaker and one e-comment expressed opposition to the proposed sewage rate increases during the public hearing portion of the city council meeting. 

“I am disappointed and appalled that the City would consider raising Sewer rates considering that the people of Chula Vista are still recovering from the Covid crisis, people have lost their jobs and rent/mortgage rates are at an all-time high! Not only that, inflation has made the cost of living go up while wages in most sectors have stayed the same,” Dr. Norell Martínez wrote in an e-comment. “I urge the Council to consider that people all over are suffering economically and raising the sewer rate would be adding more weight to our residents. Instead, please consider taxing the most wealthy of Chula Vistans or even better, funnel the exorbitant amount that the City spends on police and use those funds on the sewer to lower costs to our residents!”  

Councilmember Jill Galvez, who represents Chula Vista on Metro Watsewater Joint Powers Authority, said “I’m not happy to move forward with any rate increases, but this is a necessary evil”. 

Echoing his colleague's sentiments, Councilmember John McCann said, “this is a fee that we need to be able to maintain and support our sewer system. I understand a lot of people don't like fees. I don't like them either, but we need to make sure we’re paying for infrastructure”.  

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