Water Provider Seeks Rate Hikes, Will Tell City Council Why

San Marino residents might have greater interest than usual in attending the year’s first City Council meeting, as representatives of California American Water will present the firm’s case for raising water rates.
This presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 8, will allow the public an opportunity to ask questions or air concerns regarding the city’s water provider, which is expected to present its recommended rate changes to the California Public Utilities Commission this year. The CPUC holds the authority to enact the rate changes, based on cases made by utility firms and the public.
Cal Am is reportedly advocating a three-year series of increases of varying percentage with the biggest jump coming in the first year. More details will be available in the staff report with the meeting agenda, which will be uploaded to the city’s website at cityofsanmarino.org this week. The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
The public also will have a chance to support or rebut Cal Am near the end of the month at a CPUC-hosted meeting in Monrovia.
In other business, the City Council is expected to discuss funding for the reconstruction of the Rose Arbor in Lacy Park, with project bids having been submitted.
The city budget presently has $200,000 earmarked for the project, but the bids are “significantly higher” than that amount, according to City Manager Marcella Marlowe, so the council will have to bridge that gap. When the panel set aside the $200,000 last budget season for the project, it was done explicitly as a placeholder amount to show good faith toward the project and not meant to reflect the anticipated cost.
Because the council manages the city coffers, it formally must make a decision, even if that is as simple as dipping into the general fund reserves or capital improvement budget to do so. City officials also previously have discussed a fundraising campaign for the project, not dissimilar to the arbor’s prior use of donations for upkeep. (Plaques signified those donations at the time.)
The Rose Arbor was demolished years ago, amid public outcry, after it was deemed to have deteriorated to the point of danger. Last year, the city agreed to a plan to reconstruct the arbor with wood, and gave a spoken commitment to establishing a fund to ensure routine maintenance. Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey recently highlighted the arbor’s reconstruction as a priority for her mayoral platform for the year.

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