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Water Board Raises Los Altos Hills Rates

The Purissima Hills Water Board voted 4-1 for a 51-cent increase per unit, but drops the "autopilot" increases.

 

Facing critics and skeptics, the Purissima Hills Water Board of Directors heard all their critiques, complaints and fears, then voted 4-1 to hike rates by 51 cents per unit.

Director Gary Kremen, who had written an open letter against the rate increase, setting up some kind of subsidy for those in need, and suggesting measures to cut costs and raise revenue, cast the dissenting vote.

"It's done," said a relieved Brian Holtz, chair of the board, who had proposed dropping a provision to have automatic pass-through rate increase each year for five years. 

"If we can get creative six months from now, we don't need the 31 cent increase we thought we would," he said, referring to an October increase that was in the original rate proposal.

General Manager Patrick Walter had told the board that a second rate hike, scheduled for October, would not be necessary as revenues were better than expected because of the dry winter. It was also a result of reviewing one of the  infrastructural projects at Quarry Lake and looking at how to handle it differently to save money. 

The rate increase, driven directly by an increase in rates by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to bring Hetch Hetchy water down from the Sierra Nevada, was tweaked to remove some of the more objectionable features of the proposal.

They dropped the provision for automatic increases for five years and eliminated one increase round in October. Director Kremen attempted to get a lower price hike, suggesting 40 cents per unit, but was unsuccessful.

Patch will file a fuller update later.

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