By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sebastopol City Council gave final approval Tuesday to an increase in the city’s water and sewer rates to offset increasing service costs and to pay for maintaining and replacing the city’s aging systems.
Rates will double over the next four years, the first increase since 2008. The new rates take effect Sept. 1. The council had approved the increases May 29, setting in motion a period to allow property owners to protest the increases and setting up the final public hearing, which was held Tuesday.
Of the 2,800 property owners, only 89 sent in letters of protest.
The water rates were approved on a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Guy Wilson and council members Patrick Slayer and Sarah Gurney voted for the increase. It was opposed by Vice Mayor Michael Kyes and Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer.
The sewer rates were approved in a 4-1 vote, with Kyes voting no.
The council also added a provision that the rate structure be reviewed each year to see if they can be reduced.
A typical water bill over four years would increase from about $10.79 a month to $24.92 a month and the sewer charge would go from about $26.67 to $49.92 monthly, according to city staff.
The city’s water and sewage systems are intended to be self-supporting, with fees covering all costs. The fee increases comes as the city faces a decrease in fee revenue, an increase in operational costs and the need to replace and repair the systems.