Tuesday , June 25 2024

Fresno Residents can Protest,Support Proposed Water Rate Hikes

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The city of Fresno is once again preparing to raise water rates. Water bills did go up in 2013 for a brief time but were repealed.&nbsp; Friday, the first round of new water ballot went out to residents. They included information about the increases and what they will fund, as well as the option for residents to say no to the hikes.<br /><br /> Unlike the mailers last time, which residents complained blended in with their junk mail, the notice this time comes inside of a white envelope with a bold black strip warning residents that what’s inside contains important information about utility rate increases.&nbsp; City officials say they’re doing all they can to make sure everyone has a say on this issue.<br /><br /> Friday, the first round of water ballots, outlining a proposed rate increase, were processed and mailed out to Fresno residents. City spokesperson Mark Standriff says it’s as easy as ever for people to protest the hikes.<br /><br /> Standriff says, &quot;Everyone can look at this and say this is the most open and transparent process that the city has ever engaged in.&quot;<br /><br /> In 2013, the city imposed water rate hikes to find a $410 million water system upgrade. Residents were able to protest those hikes as well,&nbsp; but not enough spoke out on the issue.&nbsp; The increases were eventually repealed following a legal fight by a group of citizens, including Fresno business owner Steve Wayte.<br /><br /> Wayte says, &quot;The water rate payers of the city of Fresno are going to pay a subsidy for other cities to pump water and our rates are going to double.&quot;<br /><br /> Wayte says one problem was with the lack of public outreach.&nbsp; Last time around, only 133,000 mailers were sent out about the proposed hikes which he says basically looked like junk mail. This time around, ballots are being sent to 213,000 people, including tenants and county island residents.&nbsp; Still, Wayte says the issue should be on a ballot.<br /><br /> &quot;If we put a sales tax measure on the ballot, people will be smart enough to vote on that and it would be more equitable on the middle class and the poor,&quot; says Wayte.<br /><br /> If passed, water rates will increase gradually over the next five years to an average of $52.18 for a single family household. Marcos Castillo says he can’t afford to pay anymore.<br /><br /> Castillo says, &quot; It’s hard to make ends meet right now without people raising bills all of the time.&quot;<br /><br /> Residents will have 45 days to mail in their protests.&nbsp; More than 66,500 people will need to mail in protests for the water rate hike to fail.<br /><br /> The city will be holding a public meeting about the water rate hike on February 5th. <div><br /></div><div></div></div>

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