Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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Colusa waives planned sewer increase due to COVID-19

Local businesses and residents hurt by COVID-19 will have a few extra bucks in their pockets for the next 12 months.

The Colusa City Council last week waived a planned 9 percent sewer rate increase that should have gone into effect on July 1. The 5-year sewer rate schedule, which was approved in 2018, would have bumped the base rate of $85.93 per month for most residential customers to $93.66, officials said.

The savings per month would be more substantial for commercial operations such as the fairgrounds, mixed use businesses, car washes, hospitals, restaurants, fire stations, and schools, especially once COVID-19 shutdowns are lifted.

“I think it’s something we need to do to really help out our constituents,” said Mayor Josh Hill.

Hill said that while COVID has affected some people more than others, keeping the sewer rates stable for all was a way to help Colusa residents and businesses equally.

City officials said foregoing the rate increase this year was only possible because the sewer fund balance is healthy enough at $3.7 million to weather an emergency.

The City Council implemented a $12.5 percent increase last year (the first jump in the 5-year rate adjustment schedule) and could have opted to just reduce this year’s increase or move the 9 percent increase to July 1 2024.

“I honestly would prefer to just waive this year’s increase and look at it again at budget time next year to see if that needs to be slid down or if we can live without it in total,” said Councilman Greg Ponciano.

Because Colusa City Manager Jesse Cain said skipping this year’s increase should have little impact on the wastewater operation, as testing costs should drop in the next few years due to facility improvements, the City Council ultimately voted 5-0 to forego the increase altogether.

The city will resume its pay rate structure on July 1, 2021, when a scheduled 6 percent increase goes into effect.

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