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The Community Services District's draft budget for 2009-2010 would increase residents' average monthly bill for water, sewer, drainage, security services and garbage collection about 1 percent. Garbage collection is the only service that will cost ratepayers more. The draft budget goes to the board next week so the public notification process required for rate changes can begin.

CSD bills went up about 18.8 percent last year when the board approved rate increases attributed to a lack of growth and declining property tax revenue coupled with rising costs for power, fuel, wages and employer costs. The board also took an aggressive approach to restoring reserves, including replacing $600,000 used for the costs of a cease and desist order imposed by a regulatory agency.

At the Finance Committee last week, General Manager Ed Crouse noted CSD revenues are "essentially flat from last year." Although the county projects a "modest increase" in property tax revenue for the district in 2009-2010, Crouse said the district is taking a conservative approach after taking "a big hit" last year -- a 10 percent reduction in property tax revenue.

Changes in costs for 2009-2010 are a mixed bag. Sacramento Municipal Utility District power rates are expected to go up 15 percent, the district's insurer is expected to reduce workers compensation insurance costs 15 percent, and the state unemployment insurance rate will increase 4.37 percent, Director of Administration Darlene Gillum noted in the draft budget.  The budget is in the Finance Committee packet, which is available here.

The sole rate increase proposed in the draft budget is an amendment to the district's contract with California Waste Recovery Systems for garbage collection. It would increase residents' monthly bill for garbage collection 6.5 percent, although the cost continues to be less than what the county charges. The CSD took over garbage collection from the Sacramento County in 2005. The district is required to pay the county over a dollar a month per customer under the opt-out agreement.

In the draft budget, the cost for a 64-gallon container increases from $18.04 to $19.22. For residents behind the gates, this new rate would increase their average monthly bill .87 percent, taking it from $135.96 to $137.14. For Murieta Village residents, the average bill would increase 1.17 percent, from $100.63 to $101.81. Rates for water, sewer, drainage and security remain the same.

According to a table in the draft budget, the increase for water, sewer, security and drainage rates averages 3.15 percent annually for the 12-year period ending in 2010.  

The Finance Committee discussed a cost-saving measure that will go to the board for approval next week. The proposed change in the water shut-off procedure for non-payment would streamline the notification process to save staff labor and time, Gillum said.

In the past 12 months, a monthly average of 191 letters were sent out to delinquent ratepayers 15 days after payment was due, there were 122 letters and door tags for the 10-day warning, and 51 one-day tags were placed before shutting off service.

Under the proposed procedure, a letter would be sent out 10 days before the shut-off, and a notice would be placed on the door three days before the shut-off date.  

District code specifies a $75 fee for reconnection.        

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