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Water Rate Hike Approved

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Sonora, CA – Tuolumne Utilities District (T.U.D.) customers will pay more to turn on their tap. The board voted unanimously at tonight’s meeting to increase the water rates by 2.78%. That equals a $1.20 more per customer a month, and it will bring in an estimated $260K more a year for the District.

T.U.D.’s current estimated expenses related to drought measures are $3.05 million, and the loss of revenue due to the conservation requirements is expected to be an additional $850k – $1.7 million. It is noted that the previous T.U.D. Board, in 2012, had approved rate increases that were scheduled to take effect over three straight years. However, four new board members were elected later that year, and the rate hike was suspended, after year one. Because the three-year increase had already been approved, and was merely suspended, fewer legal steps were needed to implement this hike.

TUD Board member Kent Johnson said, “Things have changed so dramatically that I want to say to the public that I, and probably this board, is not back tracking on what we said we would do, which was to not change rates for this fiscal year.”

There were only a handful of customers at the meeting. One questioned how much the Rim Fire affected the District in terms of water and costs, to which GM Tom Scesa responded it was minimal. However, former T.U.D. Board Member Ron Ringen blasted the current board saying, “This board has been derelict! Several times last summer and fall, I asked what this board was doing about getting up secure additional water supplies. The response I got was ‘We have more water than we know what to do with into perpetuity.’ Well, perpetuity must be over.”

No board members responded to the comment. Scesa noted that thirty day notices alerting customers to the rate hike will go out in the mail.