Long Beach Water Dept. approves 12% rate increase

People+of+Long+Beach+Executive+Director+Carlos+Ovalle+addresses+the+Long+Beach+Water+Board+regarding+an+upcoming+12-percent+increase+on+water+rates+during+the+board%E2%80%99s+June+13+meeting.+The+increase+follows+on+the+heels+of+a+7.5-percent+increase+in+2018.+
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Long Beach Water Dept. approves 12% rate increase

People of Long Beach Executive Director Carlos Ovalle addresses the Long Beach Water Board regarding an upcoming 12-percent increase on water rates during the board’s June 13 meeting. The increase follows on the heels of a 7.5-percent increase in 2018.

People of Long Beach Executive Director Carlos Ovalle addresses the Long Beach Water Board regarding an upcoming 12-percent increase on water rates during the board’s June 13 meeting. The increase follows on the heels of a 7.5-percent increase in 2018.

Photo by Diana Lejins

People of Long Beach Executive Director Carlos Ovalle addresses the Long Beach Water Board regarding an upcoming 12-percent increase on water rates during the board’s June 13 meeting. The increase follows on the heels of a 7.5-percent increase in 2018.

Photo by Diana Lejins

Photo by Diana Lejins

People of Long Beach Executive Director Carlos Ovalle addresses the Long Beach Water Board regarding an upcoming 12-percent increase on water rates during the board’s June 13 meeting. The increase follows on the heels of a 7.5-percent increase in 2018.

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The Long Beach Water Commission voted without dissent June 13 to approve a 12-percent rate increase on water consumers. The Water Department estimates it will increase the average single family home’s bill by about $5.46 each month, as reported on LBReport.com.

The approval by the Water Commission, whose members are chosen by the mayor and approved by the city council, is subject to approval by the council, which stands to receive the transfer for General Fund spending purposes, and a Prop 218 “public protest” hearing– in which half of Long Beach Water Department users would have to object to the rate increase to stop it, according to LBReport.com.

Water Department staff cited factors such as: increased costs of water supplied to the department by the Metropolitan Water District; the installation of a new remote water metering system; a new capital project that staff says will reduce long-term costs; and a staff-recommended increase in reserves beyond current levels. Water Department staff said that even with the increase, its rate will remain below several other water agencies in the area.

A number of public residents spoke in opposition to the rate increase, and many of them had previously urged voters to defeat Measure M, a June 2018 City Hall-drafted ballot measure– later approved by roughly 54 percent of Long Beach voters– now enabling although not requiring the Water Department to transfer up to 12 percent of water and sewer funds that it determines “to be unnecessary to meet its obligations” and “to set, and the City Council to approve” rates “in an amount sufficient to recover the cost of Water fund obligations.”

Among those who spoke in opposition to the increase was Carlos Ovalle, executive director of the community group People of Long Beach.

“The City appears to be doing everything in its power to hurt the low-income citizens and communities of color by regressive taxation,” Ovalle said. “Measure M, allowing this perversion, only passed because of the city’s deceptive propaganda and scare tactics.”