Herald American

Norwalk water rate increase approved

NORWALK — Water rates for most residents will increase by about 6.7 percent July 1 following final approval May 3 by the City Council on a 4-0 vote with Councilman Luigi Vernola absent.

Initial approval came after the required Proposition 218 public hearing April 19, on a 5-0 vote.

It means the average homeowner using 22 units of water every two months will see a hike to $128.18 from the current $120.13 bi-monthly rate or an increase of $8.05 for the first year. A unit of water is about 100 cubic feet.

The hikes are based on the assumption of a 5 percent drop in water use because of the drought. The new fees are expected to generate $124,304 in added funds for the water budget.

But the council action also calls for a increase of about 6 percent in each of the coming six years, said Adriana Figueroa, administrative services manager.

However, most residential customers this year will see a decrease in the fixed meter rate based on meter size, Figueroa said in a written report to the council.

For example, the fixed cost of a three-quarter-inch meter goes from the current $51.49 every two months to $50.74. Those with a one-inch meter will see a drop from 107.46 to $67.74 bi-monthly.

Increases will be levied on large users, mostly commercial and industrial businesses. Those with an eight-inch meter will see an increase from $253.45 to $254.79 every other month. Those with a 10-inch meter will see an increase from $311.73 to $438.04.

The increases are required to meet bond payments for needed upgrades and maintenance of the water system in the next 20 years, based on a study by Willdan Financial that was submitted to the council Jan. 19.

Figueroa said notices of the increase at the April 19 meeting went out to all 8,756 customers in compliance with Proposition 218. There were not enough protests to overturn the increases.

Figueroa noted that the fee based on water usage per unit is the same for all customers. Using a tier system and charging higher users more per unit than others has been ruled illegal by the courts, although that may be changed by pending state legislation, she said.

In related water issues, the council April 19 contracted with Kana Pipeline Inc. for water main replacement in the central service area, at a cost of $1.73 million; and with Civiltec Engineering Inc. to manage the project at a cost of $164,560.

The vote was 4-0 with Councilman Luigi Vernola abstaining.

Kana was the lowest of nine bidders meeting city requirements for the replacement and enlargement of 7,698 lineal feet of pipe.

Enlargements ranged from four to eight feet, four to 12 feet and eight to 12 feet in diameter, Deputy City Manager Gary DiCorpo said.

Civiltec was the lowest of three bidders, DiCorpo said.

And on May 3 the council directed staff to seek bids for construction of 13,800 linear feet of water main improvements, with bids due June 7. The work includes replacement of valves at pressure reduction stations and the installation of a new pressure reduction station in the south part of the city, near Maidstone Avenue and Alondra Boulevard, DiCorpo said.