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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Turlock City Council votes yes on higher water rates

Turlock City Council passed an ordinance of increased water rates for residents that will be implemented July 1.
The vote came after a public hearing that took place at the city council meeting March 25.
All comments made by public participants during the hearing were against passing the ordinance.
“I’m looking around the room and seeing who my advocates are,” Ed Friedberg, a long-time Turlock resident, said. “I just need to be sure that you are my representative and that you are being proactive because we are the people who are picking up the tab.”
Residents are currently charged a flat rate for water usage up to 10,000 gallons. The change in fee structure is thought to encourage water conservation.
The new structure will have six phases of increases over the next five years. The first increase will charge residents 48 cents per 1,000 gallons used, plus a $17.50 capacity charge and a $2.20 customer charge.
Many citizens offered alternative solutions to the issue including: incentives for water conservation, planting native plants as ground cover instead of the more traditional landscape or even the installation of synthetic lawns.
Some asked the council how the city is holding itself accountable in its commercial water usage.
Many attributed the increase in rates as another tax on the “American dream.”
Andrew Hawthorne, a Turlock resident since 2010, asked the council to request some of the $687.4 million drought aid package that Governor Jerry Brown has authorized.
“We got money up in Sacramento.,” Hawthorne said. “All we got to do is ask for it.A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.”
After public comment, Vice Mayor Bill Dehart appealed to the audience by voicing his concern over the ordinance. He stated that he questioned whether the city did a good enough job of informing citizens of the increase.
According to city Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke, information on the ordinance, along with instructions on how to submit a protest ballot, was mailed out to 24,000 property owners and tenants in the city.
Contrary to Cooke’s statement, many property renters stated during public comment that they never received a notice, only the owners did.
8,771 protest ballots needed to be received by March 25 in order for the public to officially protest the ordinance.
The final certified ballot outcome included 605 protest votes. Without a successful protest, Turlock City Council took action on the item.The ordinance passed with three “yes” votes by Mayor John Lazar and councilmembers Forrest White and Steve Nascimento and two “no” votes by councilmembers Amy Bublak and William DeHart Jr.

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Turlock City Council votes yes on higher water rates