Tuesday, July 07, 2020
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Under Proposition 218, the City of Atascadero is required to hold a protest hearing for certain property-related fees, assessments, and charges prior to creation or increase. The City mailed notices of the proposed rate adjustments to all possibly affected addresses and out-of-town property owners. The City will be holding a formal public hearing at City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. (or as soon thereafter as feasible), prior to any adjustments taking effect.

 

A list of frequently asked questions has been included below, but if you have additional questions or concerns related to the Proposition 218 Public Hearing for the proposed rate adjustments, please call the Public Works Department at (805) 470-3456.

 

Si habla español y tiene preguntas sobre este mensaje, favor de comunicarse con Tess Ramirez al (805) 470-3486 o por email en tramirez@atascadero.org


 

 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

 

 

  Q: What is Proposition 218?

 

Proposition 218, or the “Right to Vote on Taxes Act”, was approved by California state voters in November 1996. The Act amended the California constitution to require local governments to follow certain procedures when they impose fees for certain kinds of services in order to ensure that they are subject to voter approval.  Prop 218 is a tool designed to provide greater public involvement in the rate setting process.

 

  Q: How can I protest the proposed rate adjustments?

 

You may mail or hand deliver a signed protest form to the City Clerk’s Office, 6500 Palma Avenue, until the close of the public hearing on June 1, 2020. You have the right to submit a protest for each parcel you own connected to the City’s sewer.  Resolution No. 2019-033 establishes the City’s procedures for the submission and tabulation of Prop 218 protests.

 

  Q: What needs to be included in my protest?

 

(1) State that the identified property owner is in opposition to the proposed increases to the wastewater rates;

(2) Provide the location of the identified parcel (by street address or assessor’s parcel number (APN);

(3) Include the printed name and original, wet signature of the property owner submitting the protest;

(4) Date the protest was signed; and

(5) Certification by the named property owner that the contents of the protest are true and correct.

 

Your signed protest must also be delivered in a sealed envelope and have “Attn: Protest Wastewater Rate Increase”written on the outside in order to properly identify and account for the vote.

 

  Q: How can I support or vote “yes” on the proposed rate adjustments?

 

If you do not wish to oppose the proposed rate adjustments, no action is necessary. By not submitting a protest form, you are showing your support for the rate adjustments. You may also attend the public hearing on June 1st to voice your support.

 

  Q: When will a decision be made?

 

Following the Public Hearing,if the proposed rates are upheld, the City Council will vote on the rate adjustments as presented. The new rates will then be adopted via Resolution. If adopted, the Resolution with the new wastewater service charges will go into effect for all residential and business customers on July 1, 2020, following a 30-day period. The revised charges will be reflected on property tax bills mailed after July 1, 2020

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  Q: Can I call, email, or fax in my protest vote?

 

No, Proposition 218 requires a written protest with a signature.

 

  Q: How can I learn more about the proposed rate adjustments?

 

City Council Staff Reports and the Wastewater Rate Study detail the proposed rate adjustments.

 

  Q: How  many  protest or  “no” votes  are required to stop  the proposed  rate adjustments  from            taking effect?

 

Proposition 218 requires a simple majority of 50 percent of the parcel owners, plus one.

 

  Q: Why are we proposing to raise the rates by these amounts?

 

The proposed amounts were carefully decided upon after determining the cost of providing wastewater services and critical upgrades and/or replacement of wastewater facilities, as well as the City's existing financial resources. For an additional $4.56 per month for the typical residential customer beginning July 1 this year, the City will be able to maintian the necessary schedule to make the needed repairs and improvements, and fund ongoing operational costs and maintenance.

 

  Q: When was the last time we raised the water and sewer rates?

 

The last rate increase was in 2019. Prior to that, rates were raised only twice over the last 30+ years.

 

  Q: Why can’t we pay for these expenses out of the normal City budget?

 

Cost to operate the wastwater treatment and collection systems to ensure continued, safe, reliable utility services cost just under $2,000,000 each year. In addition, there are over $50 million in capital improvement projects planned over the next ten years.  Most of these projects are to replace and modernize aging infrastructure at the end of its useful life, and to meet ever increasing and stricter regulatory requirements. Coupled with increasing operational costs, the scale goes beyond the capacity of the normal City budget.  Wastewater funds are generated from the wastewater connection and service charges.  Only parcels connected and benefiting from City sewer services are billed these charges. There are over 11,000 parcels in the City and about half of those parcels receive sewer service.

 

  Q: I heard about rate increase, but didn’t receive paperwork. How can I get a copy?

 

You can download the Proposition 218 notice here.

 

  Q: Where can I find my sewer bill?

 

Sewer charges are billed annually on your San Luis Obispo County property tax bill.  You can view your property tax bill online at https://services.slocountytax.org. The sewer charge is shown on the tax bill as ATAS SEWER CHARGE.

 

  Q: When will the proposed rate increases take effect?

 

The new wastewater service charges will go into effect for all residential and business customers on July 1, 2020.

 

  Q: How long will these rates be in effect?

 

The rates will remain in effect indefinitely or until new rates are proposed and another Prop 218 protest hearing is held.

 

  Q: What is the consequence if the proposed rate increases are voted down?

 

The rate increase is needed to maintain the current level of service for all wastewater customers, pay for needed repairs and improvements as well as fund ongoing operating and maintaining costs for the collection and treatment systems for wastewater. Without these rate increases, much need infrastructure maintenance and improvements would lack funding and the public could see reduced levels of service.

 

  Q: Are accommodations being made for people on fixed incomes who can't afford a rate increase?

 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to offer discounted rates to fixed income residents without making up the discount from some other source, and state law (Proposition 218) prohibits any property owner from being charged more than their proportional cost of service. In other words, the City can’t subsidize some of its customers by overcharging other customers.

 


 
 

 

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