East Bay Municipal Utility District directors voted unanimously today to approve a two-year operating budget that calls for water rate increases of 6 percent a year for each of the next two years.
The rate increases generated little controversy, as only four people spoke on the matter at today's meeting and board members said only a handful of their constituents had contacted them to oppose the increases.
EBMUD board chairman John Coleman said the increases are needed to maintain the agency's strong bond rating, which will hold down ratepayer costs for major construction projects and infrastructure maintenance.
The first rate hike for the water agency's 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties will take effect on July 1, and the second increase is scheduled to occur on July 1, 2012.
The increases mean that the typical residential water customer who uses 270 gallons of water a day will see their bill go from $38.66 per month to $40.98 a month in fiscal 2012 and to $43.45 per month in fiscal 2013.
The average residential wastewater customer's monthly bill will go from $15.10 now to $16 in fiscal 2012 and $16.94 in fiscal 2013.
EBMUD directors approved a $372 million operating budget for fiscal 2012 and a $395 million budget for fiscal 2013.
Water agency spokesman Charles Hardy said the budgets for the next two years represent only a modest increase over this year's $369 million budget even though the agency's debt service costs have risen and increases are expected in operating expenses for facilities and infrastructure maintenance and petroleum-based products such as paving materials.
Hardy said EBMUD has balanced its budget in recent years by cutting its spending, not filling positions that open up when employees retire or take other jobs and having employees forego pay raises.
Hardy said EBMUD's budget also has been helped by savings from its energy-saving efforts, especially in its wastewater division.
He said the water agency generates most of the power it uses to run its main wastewater treatment plant from methane gas it captures and processes at the site.
The facility soon will be completely self-sufficient and generate enough power to sell back to the grid and save customers in the process, Hardy said.