Water & Sewer Rate Increase 2024

Water and sewer rates have not covered the costs of operating the City’s water and sewer systems since Fiscal Year 2019-20. One consequence is that our systems are in poor condition, which increases the risk of failures that would leave residents without water or sewer service for what could be hours or even days at a time.

At a special meeting on April 23, 2024, the City Council reviewed a Utility Rate Study on Water and Wastewater (Sewer) Enterprise Funds and voted to bring rates to a level that will better cover the cost of operating and maintaining these systems. The increases would be substantial for many residents and businesses. The Council is continuing to consider options to balance the integrity of the system with the impact on residents and businesses.

The City Council is scheduled to consider adopting these recommendations at a public hearing on Tuesday, June 18, at 6:00 p.m. at the Youth Annex on Morris Street. As with all City Council meetings, the public is welcome to attend in person or via Zoom.

How will this impact me?
How do the proposed “tiered” water rates work?
Why do you need to raise my water and sewer rates?
What happens if rates are not raised?
What are you doing to help people who can’t afford rate increases?
How is the City of Sebastopol’s water and sewer services funded and what do they pay for?
What is the process that the City used to determine the proposed rate changes?
What is the Proposition 218 process, and how are written protests calculated?
Who approves rate changes?
Why does the City need to worry about water conservation if it receives all of its supply from groundwater?
Who is impacted by changing from a Fixed Rate to a Tiered Rate structure?
Is revenue from water and sewer rates used to fund non-water projects or programs?
When would the new rates begin?
Why does the city bill for water every two months instead of monthly like my other bills?
Why are water and sewer rate increase studies from other jurisdictions more detailed?
How will reduced water use triggered by drought and by increased rates affect the projected revenue? 
Are there resources we can make available to residents to help them reduce water use in order to reduce the impact of the new rates? 
Given the resulting new water rates from the Council decision on 4/23/24, how much of the total needed would be collected each year for each fund under the proposed tiered rate schedule? 
Given that the Council chose option 1 for water and option 2 for wastewater, plus delayed the payment start date for the general fund loan, what are the resulting new water rates? 
What is the total dollar amount we would need in today’s dollars, to cover our deficit and to have sufficient reserves, in order to stabilize the water and sewer funds? 
Did the tiered proposal take into consideration potential reductions in water use by customers trying to reduce their bills (and resulting reductions in revenue collected from ratepayers)? 
What is the “average residential user” for purposes of water and wastewater rates and how much water is that user consuming and what category does that user fall into for wastewater fee purposes?
What is the expected increased cost to the City (as a ratepayer) from the resulting new rates approved by the Council?  
How does Sebastopol’s rates compare to other communities in the region?