Tuesday night, the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District voted to move forward and begin to implement the first of the proposed rate increases. This new structure not only has higher rates, but modifies the structure for sanitation rates and recycled water rates. This begins the process of rates increasing for the community. The rate structure is complex, but if the rate increases continue to be implemented, rate payers should expect at least a 25% rate increase, and some over 40%, over the next few years.

Four of the five board members have supported the proposed rate increases at the levels indicated throughout the public process. (Directors Bowman, Caspary, Peterson and Renger supporting rate increases; and Director Steinhardt opposing any rate increase.)

In the past few weeks, shown most visibly in his most recent election materials distributed, Director Bowman (covering Westlake Village and a small part of Agoura) revised his position to continue to support rate increases but at a lower rate than he previously supported indicating that he now believes reserves can be used to offset rate increases. Director Steinhardt is against any rate increase.

As a result of this new position, Directors Steinhardt and Bowman voted against the full rate increase, but it passed with the votes of Directors Caspary, Peterson and Renger. Director Steinhardt commented that he’s against any rate increase, and Director Bowman commented that he’s still for a rate increase, but a smaller one.

For completeness during an election cycle, Candidate Len Polan, has indicated that before he would support any rate increases, he would use the funds slated for the Three Springs storage tank, reduce overhead, and implement whatever efficiencies were possible. This is similar to Director Steinhardt’s position.

After the election, the ordinance will be presented to the Board for second reading at its regular meeting of November 13. If approved (it requires a second confirming vote) the changes will take effect on January 1, 2013.

Additional Details:

Las Virgenes’ water rates are proposed to increase 5% per year for three years plus the Metropolitan Water District pass through increases which adds another 7% to the customer over the first two years. It’s not yet known what MWD plans for 2015 and beyond, but they’ve been consistently raising rates. In addition, Tier 1 rates will be going up a higher percentage, about 22% over the three years, as the Board wants this tier rate to pay for the cost of purchasing water from MWD, which it does not now.

Sanitation has no increase in 2013 and 2014, but a proposed increase of 2% in 2015. However, the sanitation rate restructuring could lower costs for some customers during December through March of each year.