News - May 26, 2010

Menlo Watch: Steep hike in water rates in Menlo Park

by Sean Howell

Water rates for customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District are set to rise at an even steeper rate than in recent years.

Those rates will more than double by 2014-15, after a unanimous City Council vote at its meeting Tuesday, May 18. The new rates in 2014 will be more than triple the rates in 2006.

Rates had been rising at a clip of 11.9 percent per year. They will now increase at a rate of 16.5 percent annually.

On average, residents of a single-family home in the city's water district now consume about 10,500 gallons per month and pay $34.36 per month, according to city staff. Under the new rates, the average homeowner will pay about $73.74 per month in 2015, assuming water use remains the same.

The city cited several reasons for the rate increases, including capital improvements to the water system, and the fact that water expenses have surpassed revenues in recent years. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission sets costs for cities, with cities allowed some flexibility in how they will set rates for their users.

Only about one-third of the city is covered by the municipal water district, with most of the city covered by CalWater.

City adopts tobacco license law

Menlo Park police can now enforce a county law requiring licenses for tobacco vendors.

The City Council adopted the county's law at its meeting Tuesday, May 18.

Several groups, including El Concilio of San Mateo County, Youth Organizing San Mateo (YO!Mateo), and the San Mateo County Tobacco Education Coalition lobbied the county to pass the ordinance, and then pressed cities to do the same in order to beef up enforcement.

High school students and community organizers spoke at several council meetings, warning out against underage smoking.

Work on a broader revision to Menlo Park's smoking ordinance has been put on hold, as the city discusses the changes with local restaurants.


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