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Council Approves Public Hearings Dates For Sewer Use And Refuse Collection Fees

Published on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 | 5:34 am

As part of Monday’s consent calendar, the City Council approved a public hearing to discuss a proposed increase to 250% of the current sewer use fee for single-family residences.

The proposed hike, which would raise the average monthly sewer use fee from $4.55 to $11.37, marks the first time the City has suggested an increase beyond the consumer price index since 2007.

The hearing will occur on April 8.

The vote on the recommendation for a public hearing, initially slated for last week but postponed due to a meeting cancellation, comes as part of a broader discussion on sewer use fee rate structure and adjustments.

The City-owned and operated sewer wastewater collection system, serving approximately 140,000 residents and commercial users, is currently funded by the Sewer Use Fee. This fee, part of customers’ utility bills, is used for the operations, ongoing maintenance, and needed capital improvements of the sewer collection system, which consists of 325 miles of sewer pipelines, three pump stations, and nearly 7,500 manholes.

To fully fund the sewer collection program, the City needs approximately $7.6 million every year. However, the City currently collects only $3.9 million on average each year.

The City’s sewer system serves approximately 140,000 residents and commercial users. The system consists of 325 miles of sewer pipelines, three pump stations, and nearly 7,500 manholes. The current sewer use fee is based on the consumers’ water use, which is considered to be proportional to the sewer system’s wastewater discharge. That methodology has been used since the establishment of the fee.

However, the long-term statewide drought conditions and water conservation efforts have impacted the amount of sewer use fees collected over the last ten years, and as a result, the City has not kept up with the cost of maintaining Pasadena’s aging infrastructure, according to a City staff report.

According to a service rate study performed in March. Based on that study, staff is recommending a fixed charge for both residential and commercial customers, plus a volumetric rate based on water consumption.

The fixed charges include 52 percent of collection-related costs that are fixed and do not vary with flow.

The proposed rate for single-family residences is a fixed monthly rate of $6.16 plus a volumetric rate of $0.65 per hundred cubic feet. Single-family residence water use is capped at 26 hundred cubic feet per month, which assumes that water usage above 26 hundred cubic feet is for irrigation and therefore does not go into the sewer collection system.

The utility cost index has outpaced general inflation increases since 2020 by almost double and continues to rise. The cost of maintaining the sewer collection system has increased significantly.

A hearing for proposed refuse collection fee increases is set for the same date.

Here are the other items on Monday’s consent calendar:

  •  The City Council voted to allow the City Manager to extend a contract with Michael Baker International for one year to November 15, for consulting services for the design and development of construction plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) of the Walnut Street Corridor Project. On October 11, 2022, Michael Baker International and the City, entered a contract to develop a complete construction PS&E package. Three months were scheduled for field inventory. Due to the extreme wet winter and spring earlier in 2023, this task took over five months to complete. With construction costs trending upwards, additional time was also needed to explore more cost-efficient design solutions to better match the projected cost against the available funds, while adhering to the scope of work for this project, as agreed in Metro’s funding agreement for this project. As such, the time extension amendment for this contract is needed for the completion of the design and development of construction plans, specifications, and estimates. This PS&E package will be used for the construction and implementation of key technologies along the Walnut Street Corridor Project. Other than time extension for contract number 32334, all other terms of this contract including the not to exceed the amount, are unchanged and are to remain in effect.
  • A resolution establishing one new classification and salary and updating the salaries of 20 existing classifications. Periodically there is a need to update or add job classifications and salary rates as duties and the operational needs of the City change over time and the marketplace adjusts. The City’s Manual of Personnel & Administrative Rules establishes a comprehensive process for classification submission in which the Human Resources Department reviews, approves, and provides recommendations on classification requests. A provision in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOD) between the City and Pasadena Management Association (PMA) also provides a compensation review for classifications or classification series as outlined in the MOD. 
  •  A $1,500,000 contract with A&Y for an initial period of one year, whichever comes first, with an option for two additional one-year terms at $1,500,000 per year, at the discretion of the City Manager, for a maximum total amount not to exceed $4,500,000 to furnish labor and materials for utility and miscellaneous street repairs. The Water and Power Department (“PWP”) regularly installs water mains to replace aging pipelines and to improve system reliability and water quality. PWP uses in-house staff to perform the installation of mainlines, modifications to the water distribution system for new developments, regular maintenance, and repairs to ruptured pipelines and services.
  • An amendment to a contract with Raftelis Financial Consultants for Water Cost of Service Analysis (“COSA”) and rate design services from a not-to-exceed amount of $157,724 to $211,708 and extend the expiration to December 31. The total $53,984 amendment includes the base amendment of $46,943 and a 15% contingency of $7,041, to provide for any necessary change orders. The original scope of work on Contract 32329 is currently underway, but additional work is required to complete the Water COSA and rate design efforts that were not anticipated in the original contract. The additional efforts include expanded rate analysis related to the Municipal Services Committee’s (“MSC”) request to move forward multiple rate structures for further analysis/modeling (including budget-based tiered rates), incremental MSC and staff discussions to further analyze budget-based tiered rates, and additional data analysis tied to updating Raftelis’ financial model with the latest financial data and budget assumptions. The budget-based analysis and modeling was completed per MSC direction, however, additional funding is required to complete the original scope of work items, such as the final report and adoption of the final rate structure. Raftelis completed the additional scope items and postponed the original scope items due to the sequence of events, pending the Council’s approval of this contract amendment.
  • Rejection of all bids received on December 5 in response to the notice inviting bids to furnish and deliver concrete materials.

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