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Placentia residents could see their sewer rates about double in the future for an average single-family home and for those who live in multi-family complexes.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at squick@voiceofoc.org.

The City Council in March unanimously directed staff to bring back the new rate structure at a future meeting and to hold a public hearing. The proposition would generate sufficient revenues for ongoing maintenance costs and capital improvements over the years, according to a city staff report.

The city’s existing sewer maintenance fee was established in 2005, a variable fee based on water consumption, but the fee has not been adjusted or increased since then, the staff report states.

The sewer maintenance fund is facing a “structural deficit,” the report noted.

“You have to increase the fees because since we have not increased the fees for all these years, we’ve got a big deficit to make up,” Mayor Pro Tem Chad Wanke said during the March council meeting.

The average current dollar fee for single family homes is currently $5.60 per month but the proposed adjustments would double the price to $11.01 per month, according to a city staff rate study powerpoint. Apartment dwellers who have an existing average monthly fee of $59.67 could see an increase to $121.73 per month in the future, if approved by the council.

The actual rates would apply to all users and are based upon one hundred cubic feet of water used. 

Commercial, industrial and some other users could also see monthly average fees more than double.

“I think it’s important that we as a council can tell the public why we’re making this decision and I don’t feel like the research has been done to adequately answer that question,” said Wanke. “I need a better justification behind the difference between the different fees.” 

When staff has conducted further research to provide the City Council with more background on the fee structure, the item will be placed on a future council agenda, according to City Clerk Robert S. McKinnell. 

The item is expected to return to the council agenda for consideration on May 4.

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