Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/11/2011 04:04:25 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Hold onto that dollar.

The City Council voted 4-3 Monday to approve a hike in sewer treatment rates.

Residential customers will see their monthly bills increase by $1 a month this year and by $1.50 in 2012.

Stacey Aldstadt, general manager of the Water Department, said the rate increase is needed to help fund roughly $21 million in improvements brought on by an aging wastewater treatment plant and unfunded regulatory mandates from the state government.

“$14million is in rehabilitation for very large pieces of equipment that we’ve had for a long time,” Aldstadt said.

The increase is expected to generate an additional $1.9million in operating revenue this year and an additional $2.2million next year into the Water Department’s Sewer Treatment Enterprise Fund.

Aldstadt said the average residential customer pays about $20 a month on their sewer treatment bills.

The increase for commercial customers will vary according to consumption and their account classification.

Aldstadt said the revenue can also be used to meet the Water Department’s fixed financial obligations during the tough economy and bring the department’s sewer treatment debt coverage ratio into compliance with bond covenants that require net revenues to equal 110percent of debt service.

Councilman Chas Kelley said raising rates is the wrong thing to do to residents during a difficult economy.

“I don’t believe it’s an appropriate time to be doing this,” Kelley said.

He joined council members Jason Desjardins and Tobin Brinker in opposing the increase.

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