Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sanitary District Raises Rates 20 Percent

Board passes increase to cover sewer costs
By Sondra Murphy
It costs more to irrigate, fill our gas tanks and, now, dispose of gray water. An Ojai Valley Sanitary District rate increase goes into effect today, a change that was passed by the board last week. The basic monthly rate of $40.50 will increase to $48.43 for customers in Meiners Oaks, Oak View and the Ventura Avenue areas. City of Ojai rates will increase to $50.31. Individual customer fees will vary depending on several factors, such as the size of connective pipes and type of structure being serviced.
According to notices of the public hearing at which the new rates were decided, the increase is due to “fiscal requirements for operating and maintaining the systems in compliance with the increasingly rigorous environmental regulatory requirements for treating the water discharged into the Ventura River.” Inflation and new mandated standards in maintenance of collection and treatment facilities have also contributed to the increase.
In the OVSD notice, customers received information to calculate their new rates using ERU ratios from two tables. ERU stands for Equivalent Residential Unit, a standard for measuring system usage based on fixture unit counts for the average residential, commercial or institutional customer. On average, a house is equivalent to 25 fixture units, or one ERU.
The area serviced by OVSD has “a myriad of water companies,” said OVSD general manager John Correa. “We can’t use water meter readings to base our sewer charges on, so we use ERU.”
The new fees were determined by the budget. “After the budget is all worked out, we divide it by the number of ERUs and figure out what to charge,” Correa said.
The reason customers in the city of Ojai pay a slightly higher rate is due to debt from infrastructure. “There used to be four different sanitary districts,” said Correa. “When we consolidated in 1985, each area had different debt issues associated with it.” Correa added that the debts will eventually be paid off, reducing the cost to customers.

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