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Tempers flare over proposed water rate hike

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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A proposed El Dorado Irrigation District rate hike has some in the county fighting mad. El Dorado Hills resident Gerald May says he is seriously concerned over the proposed 85-percent rate increase, compounded over five years. “We are talking about an increase of 80 percent with the average bill at $150, that’s a (huge) annual increase,” said May, who is retired. The Mays, a family of two, have a 60-day billing cycle resulting in an average of $171 over a 12-month period, May said. “We are clipping coupons and can absorb the cost, but that means that something else has to give,” May said. EID is proposing a 35-percent rate increase on water, wastewater, and recycled water services this year, and a 15-percent increase in 2011 followed by a 5-percent increase each year for the following three years. Based on an average water bill of $150 for two months of service, the 35–percent increase would result in a $52 increase per billing cycle for the first year, eventually resulting in an annual increase of more than $312. Of great concern to May is EID’s appearance of “underhandedness.” EID sent notices to all its customers, roughly 40,000 households within the county in mid-December. May believes the notice was easily overlooked during the holiday season. “I asked eight of my neighbors and not one of them said they saw the mailer,” May said. EID representative Karen Cross said customers were sent a notice mailed out Dec. 17 via bulk mail. “Every account was sent a notice,” Cross said. Customers can send in a letter of protest to the EID office, which must include their parcel number, or they can attend one of two upcoming public meetings to protest the proposed increase. EID said they have to increase rates in order to cover debts. “We have to cover our debt ratio,” Cross said. “We don’t have the sufficient income to ever (payoff) our debt.” Additional information about the proposed rate increase can be found at EID’s Web site, eid.org. Additionally, the January/February issue of the organizations’ Waterfront flyer offers more information about the use of the funds. Cross said the increases are necessary, but those who want to protest or “be heard” should attend the public meetings. “We can only cut back so far without jeopardizing safety and service,” Cross said. “If you want to be heard, come to a meeting.” May said he wants everyone in the county to know what they are in for. “This isn’t about me, this is for everyone in the county who are going to be blind-sided by this increase,” May said. “Everything about this is just rotten.” Penne Usher can be reached at penne.usher@gmail.com. KNOW AND GO EID Public Workshops -- El Dorado Hills When: 6–8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13 Where: El Dorado Hills Fire Department Building, 1050 Wilson Blvd. -- Pollock Pines When: 6-8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18 Where: Pollock Pines Community Center, 2675 Sanders Drive Public Hearing What: EID public hearing When: 6 p.m., Feb. Where: El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting room, 330 Fair Lane, Building A, Placerville