Proposed Sewer Rate Increase

The Groveland Community Services District (GCSD) has determined that in order to replace and upgrade failing sewer system infrastructure, it must immediately begin to invest an additional $300,000 per year in its equipment, pumps, pipes, treatment plant and other expensive assets. To accomplish this, the GCSD sewer charges are proposed to increase an average of $13.42 per month beginning in September 2018. The Sewer Rate Increase Notice of Public Hearing/Customer Notice and Sewer Rate Study are available for download below.   

Prop 218 Sewer Rate Public Notice Final.pdfSewer Rate Report.pdf

 

Below we have addressed some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed rate increase

Why is GCSD raising the sewer rates?

The sewer rates are proposed to increase to cover the cost of providing public sewer collection and wastewater treatment services to your home.   GCSD’s only source of funding for sewer system operation is the monthly rates charged to customers.   Without a connection to public sewer service, you would be required to have an approved septic system designed, permitted and built meeting county and state standards; which is very expensive.  At the current rates, the GCSD does not have enough money to repair and replace the sewer and wastewater treatment system, comply with strict state regulations, and to operate the system safely and efficiently. 

When do the new rates go into effect?

The new increased rates are proposed to go into effect on September 1, 2018; so the first time you will notice an increase in your bill, if the rates are approved, would be on the bill you receive in early October 2018. 

How do you protest?

To protest the rate increase, you must file a written protest with the District.  You can deliver the written protest by hand deliver to the GCSD office, by mail to the GCSD office address, or hand delivered to the GCSD in person at the hearing.  Written protests against the proposed rate increase must be received by the District by the close of the public hearing on August 15, 2018 and must identify an owner of the property, the parcel (APN) number or address of the affected property, and include the original signature of an owner or renter/lessee (if they are financially responsible for the bill) of the parcel.

Only one written protest per parcel will be counted in calculating a majority protest to the proposed rate change. If the District receives written protests against the proposed rates by a majority of the affected property owners/renters/lessees prior to the end of the hearing on August 15, 2018, the District cannot approve the rate increase.

What is the money spent on?

GCSD is responsible for Wastewater Collection for approximately 1,500 properties within the Groveland and Big Oak Flat communities. The Wastewater Collection System includes 16 sewerage lift stations, 35 miles of gravity mains, 7 miles of force mains, a recycled water treatment plant, 2 surface storage reservoirs, and approximately 15 acres of spray fields.  Your sewer rates are spent on state certified operations personnel, materials, supplies, pumps, valves, controls, monitoring systems, chemicals, testing and sampling, state inspections and permits, wastewater disposal costs, sewer cleaning and inspections, pipeline repair and replacements, and administrative costs. 

The money collected in your sewer rates can only be spent to operate, maintain and improve the sewer system.  The proposed rate increases are necessary to raise additional money to begin major repairs and replacements of the sewer collection and treatment systems.  The District is in the final planning and permitting stages of a major $6 million sewer system replacement project, funded 75% by state grants so long as the GCSD can increase the rates enough to also pay the loan payments on 25% of the project cost.   The proposed rate increase will provide the GCSD enough money to qualify for the $6 million grant; money that we would have to spend out of ratepayer’s pockets at 100% if we did not receive the grant.   

Doesn’t GCSD have enough money in reserves to not raise rates?

No, unfortunately the GCSD has not increased the sewer rates in 8 years, resulting in annual expenses exceeding revenue generated from rates; a depletion of the small accumulated reserves and requiring deferral of critically important infrastructure projects.   GCSD currently has less than $600,000 in cash available in the sewer fund, and a need to begin spending approximately $300,000 per year to replace infrastructure.   Without the rate increase, the GCSD sewer account will be depleted by approximately June 30, 2019.  We are planning NOW to make sure we can continue delivering service and comply with state regulations. 

Why can’t the GCSD just cut expenses instead of raising rates?

The District has reduced expenses nearly every year since the rates were last increased.  The problem is, customers have reduced water consumption (the right thing to do!) which has reduced the amount we charge on the monthly bill, and the need to invest in infrastructure has increased tremendously over the past decade.  With only 1500 customers, GCSD simply cannot reduce expenses enough to provide the needed $300,000 to $400,000 per year to begin replacing infrastructure. 

Please submit additional questions to (redacted) and we will add to this Q&A document.   Thank you!