Crestline-Lake Arrowhead Water Association Proposes Rate Increases - Mountain News : News

Crestline-Lake Arrowhead Water Association Proposes Rate Increases

By Zev Blumenfeld, Special Assignment Reporter | Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2019 9:00 am

Over half of Crestline-Lake Arrowhead Water Association (CLAWA) retail customers may see their monthly water bills increase by approximately 41% come 2020. 

This December, CLAWA will vote on whether or not to raise customer rates for the first time in 26 years. If the initiative passes, many customers will see an adjustment in their monthly bills that will negatively affect their pocketbooks.

A “Retail Customer Outreach Meeting” was held on Monday, Sept. 30 to discuss the details and reasoning behind the proposed increases. Board members and a few members from the public gathered in a mostly empty CLAWA conference room. A 2019 Water Rate Study conducted by Raftelis — a hired consulting firm for utility and public-sector organizations — was presented. Raftekis consultant, Steve Gagnon shared the findings. He cited general economic inflation and the large discrepancy between the water, sewer, and trash consumer price index (CPI) and the CPI of consumer goods as necessitating rate increases. 

“We had enough tax revenue and it was sufficient,” said CLAWA president, Bruce Risher when asked why the rate raises had not gradually been implemented over the last 26 years.

Gagnon outlined CLAWA’s plan over the next five years­ to increase projected revenue by 9% in 2020 and working down to 6% by 2024. This statistic may mean little to the average CLAWA customer, but it directly impacts the final price of each monthly water bill. 

Retail rates will be raised incrementally over the next five years, though at the time of press, estimations between the years 2021-2024 were not available. In 2020, RC1 and RD1 zones will see lesser increases of approximately 13% as compared to the 41% in RA1.

General Manager, Roxanne Holmes, stated that an aging infrastructure and increased expenditures due to regulatory mandates, contributed to the need for increased rates. 

The agency sells water on a wholesale basis to districts including, Lake Arrowhead Community Service District, Running Springs, Skyforest, Arrowhead Villas, Alpine Water, Arrowbear Park and Cedarpines Park, among others. Crestline Water Village receives approximately 50% of their water from CLAWA.

A public hearing has been confirmed for Dec. 5 at CLAWA’s office in Crestline, with a notice about the meeting going out to the public later this month. Community members will have the opportunity to write in questions and comments to the CLAWA board prior to the hearing. A final vote will be conducted after questions have been addressed.

“We hate to do this to people, but we’ve held out as long as possible,” Risher said.