Council considers recommendation to raise the City’s sewer rates starting in July

PASO ROBLES – Paso Robles City Council discussed creating an oversight committee for Measure J-20, which passed in November 2020.

Measure J-20 is a local one-cent sales tax to maintain fire, police, and public safety services. When the measure was proposed, it was promised that an oversight committee would be set in place to ensure the measure funds are appropriately used. 

In November 2012, Measure N-12, a half-cent supplemental sales tax, was passed for road repair and maintenance. After the measure passed, a supplemental sales tax revenue expenditures oversight committee was created to report to the City Council and the public on the generated funds’ expenditure. 

The staff recommended that the Council combine the proposed J-20 and existing N-12 oversight committees. 

From agenda item 11:

On Nov. 12, 2020, the Council directed staff to return to Council with draft bylaws that create single citizens’ oversight and advisory committee for both measures to ensure that the existing half-cent sales tax revenues, as well as J-20 revenues, are spent on the high-priority areas identified by the Council and to provide the needed feedback to the public. As part of the motion, the Council included the following direction to staff. The Committee should:

  •  Include up to 17 Members
  •  Includes Representatives From Community Organizations
  • Incorporate members of the existing half-cent SST Oversight Committee
  •  Include residents from each of the four Council districts
  • Provide liaisons from the City Council and Executive Managers in Police, Fire, and Public Works.

Current members of the N-12 oversight committee can apply for the new, combined committee. 

Staff suggested that affiliated members be made up of education, general business, and service providers. Members will serve in three-year staggered terms.

Council approved the proposed bylaws for the oversight committee, with a 5-0 vote except for a few changes.

There will be seven, rather than six, at-large members and four, instead of five, members nominated by local organizations. 

Council also updated the current code of ethics to require a report be made to the Council after every regular meeting and a similar report made to the public.

Staff presented a recommendation to raise the City’s sewer rates.

The City last increased their wastewater rates on Jul. 1, 2016. Currently, Paso Robles has the lowest sewer rates on the Central Coast at $7.80 per unit. Each single-family household uses on average six units. 

Council seemed to favor Option A “Transition to 42 percent Fixed and 58 percent Volumetric Rates while maintaining $7.80/HCF usage rate.”

Option A would allow single-family homes to remain at the volumetric rate at the current level of $7.80 per HCF, and fixed monthly rates would phase-in.

The first-rate increase would occur on Jul. 1, at a monthly charge of $11.40, and increase by approximately $4 per year until 2025.

Councilman John Hamon said, “We’re not allowed to charge any more than it costs to run a system. So it’s not like the City is making a profit on this – we’re already behind the eightball here.”

Council motioned and approved, 5-0, for staff to bring back Option A to the Feb. 16 meeting for further review. 

City Council will be holding a Special Meeting on Friday, Feb. 5, at 8 a.m. to discuss the City Manager position as a closed session item. Per the agenda, the Council expects to reconvene from the closed session between 4 and 4:30 p.m.

Another special meeting is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 a.m. to conduct City Manager second interviews. 

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m.