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Independent Voice

Dixon Closer to Water Rate Increase Decision

Jun 05, 2024 10:37AM ● By Angela Underwood

Here is the City of Dixon Water System Breakdown as shown in the City of Dixon 2024 Cost-of-Service Water Rate Study. Photo courtesy of the City of Dixon

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The Water Rate Ad Hoc Committee officially phased out.

On May 21, Dixon Mayor Steve Bird and the other council members discussed the City of Dixon 2024 Cost-of-Service Water Rate Study, a year-long process to conquer a $417,000 annual operating deficit and deferred capital projects needed.

City Attorney Douglas L. White called it "his honor" to report to City Council on the committee's progress. He said the group, which also entailed public input, achieved the requested results within the proposed one-year time frame for a new rate structure.

"There was a lot of work into communication and trying to get participation from the community and getting people to attend meetings," White said. "I will readily admit we never got the attendance we had hoped to but I think we can all look ourselves in the face and say it was not for lack of outreach."

Public information officer Madeline Graf reiterated some of the outreach and told officials that efforts remain, beginning with the committee’s webpage.

"You can access it from the homepage of the city's website," Graf said, adding that the council will consider final rates at the July 16 meeting. "During the next few months, we will continue to do outreach with social media, bill inserts and mailers."

The Water Rate Ad Hoc Committee has two options: a recommendation to raise rates to maintain Dixon’s water system or sell it.

Prior to the rate study, the Water Rate Ad Hoc Committee held seven meetings. The year-long rate study consists of nine workshops, which detailed rate-setting, policy, rate objectives, financial planning, cost-of-service and rate design, rate options and customer impacts.

“A majority of the committee supported a second recommendation to conduct Requests for Proposals (RFP) to understand who would be interested if the city were to sell the system to another purveyor,” White said.

As for the requests for proposals, committee co-chair and Councilmember Kevin Johnson is not ready to go there yet due to questions including, "How would another supplier actually work and will it be good for the city?"

Johnson noted the water systems' "integrity" and how all parts of the city suffer if one part of the city suffers.

"We are all one family," Johnson said.

White clarified that it is "not the staff's recommendation" to sell, and neither is it for two ad hoc committee members. Herb Cross and Jack Caldwell said the group is not advocating for the sale of the system but is more interested in exploring all alternatives.

Dixon Herb Cross

 City of Dixon Water Ad Hoc Committee member Herb Cross expressed the group’s desire to explore all options to make the best decision. Photo by Angela Underwood

Dixon Jack Caldwell

 City of Dixon Water Ad Hoc Committee member and Planning Commission Chair Jack Caldwell said if officials decide to sell the water system, the committee will have a head start. Photo by Angela Underwood

"I feel very strongly we owe the public all the answers we can glean so that they know we have explored all of the possibilities and we are making a valid decision," Cross said.

Caldwell, also the Planning Commission chair, said selling the water system will become a priority, if the water rate increase fails.

"We felt it was important to have a good template in place for a running start," Johnson said.

Johnson said his "faith" remains in managing the city's water system.

"I am confident that we would be better off but if it ever got to that point, my question would be how would it benefit the city," Johnson said.

Councilmember Jim Ernest said the public outreach “was done right” and as far as the requests for proposals goes, "I think selling the system is a solid Plan B" if the water rate increase fails. 

All Dixon property owners and customers receiving city water service are invited to attend the public hearing at 7 p.m. July 16 at 600 East A St., to comment on the proposed rate adjustments taking effect Aug. 1.

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