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What Do You Think of the Sewer Rate Increases?

The average bill will grow by $31 next year then $19 each year for three more years. Considering the expenses faced by the Novato Sanitary District, does that sound legit?

Dinner for two at a B-grade restaurant — that's the about cost the average household rate for sewer service will jump next year in Novato.

By a 4-1 vote, the Novato Sanitary District board approved rate increases for the next four years at its Monday meeting, making up the difference after skipping an increase the past two years.

The average household in Novato pays about $464 per year, and that will jump $31 (6.68 percent) to $495 for the 2012-13. The three increases after that are smaller: 3.84 percent followed by 3.69 percent followed by 3.56 percent, factoring out to $19 per year.

No members of the public spoke out against the proposed increases at the Monday meeting, but about 25 people wrote letters to the district to protest, said board President Bill Long.

"That's out of 20,000 customers," he noted. "Even with the increase, our rates are lower than any other district in the county. That would be the first thing I point out."

Jean Mariani, who favored dipping into the district's significant reserves to lessen the blow on the first year's increase, was the dissenting vote.

Manager/Engineer Beverly James said operating costs are increasing 3.3 percent and capital expenses are going up 11.7. Of the $495 bill for a typical household bill in 2012-13, $285 will go toward operating costs and $210 for capital expenses, she said.

Also at the meeting, Mike Di Giorgio was voted board president for the next fiscal year and Mariani will be president pro-tem. The transition takes place at the July 9 meeting. Long, who first served on the Novato Sanitary District board in the 1970s, is finishing his sixth term as board president.

Brant June 29, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Novato Sanitary has (one of the?) lowest rate(s) in Marin despite having just built a new, high-tech treatment plant, having modernized most (all now?) pump stations, and having engaged in an aggressive, necessary collection system replacement program. They are doing a great job of looking out for their customers' interests.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
The district went two years with no rate increases, not one as originally reported. The story has been corrected.
Dave Robertson June 29, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Manager/Engineer Beverly James is quotes as saying that capital expenses are going up 11.7%. Given that services are being implemented by private company, capital expenses are depreciated over time for tax purposes, and therefore do not reflect what it is actually costing the company at all. This is a deceptive way of presenting "the numbers", and does not reflect true costs. I am surprised the author did not catch this.
Bev James June 29, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Novato Sanitary District's contract is for operation and maintenance of the treatment plant only. The District continues to own all of the treatment plant, 40 pump stations, 220 miles of sewers and an 800-acre reclamation facility. Capital expenses include sewer replacement, pump station replacement, recycled water, and other facility replacements and improvements needed to protect the community's infrastructure
Hutch Turner June 30, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The specious self-congratulatory remarks about Novato's "low" sewer rates are meaningless unless there is a realistic basis for comparison. Novato's topgraphy is very different from Sausalito's and Mill Valley. Its time all compensation costs for the NSD Board Memers and operating personnel were posted including COLA's and health/retirement benefits vesting, etc.

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