Q1: Why are rate increases needed?
A. The proposed increases in sewer service charges will allow the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District to continue its long-term capital improvement plan to modernize and upgrade its aging infrastructure and facilities, safeguard public health, protect the environment, and comply with increasing State and Federal regulatory requirements. For the past decade, the District’s Board of Directors has focused much of its attention on renovating and upgrading the District’s aging collection and treatment infrastructure.
Q2: Has the District been sensitive to customers’ current economic circumstances?
A. Yes. With current economic conditions affecting many of our customers, new rates are proposed to set at the lowest level possible while providing sufficient funding for current and future operation and maintenance and capital improvement budgets. The District’s rates currently are in line with nearby sanitary agencies.
Q3: How are residential rates structured?
A. Rates are designed to cover the actual cost of service. Each residential unit is charged the basic flat rate. This applies to single-family homes, apartments, condominiums and other multi-family dwellings, and mobile homes. For rooming houses, the basic flat rate is applied to each of the first two rooms used for renting and one-quarter of the basic rate for each additional rented room.
Q4: What are the current residential rates?
A. The current basic residential rate for 2023-24 is $1,233 per sanitary unit.
Q5: What are the current non-residential rates?
A. Increases for non-residential rates are proportional to the rise in residential rates.
Q6: How are non-residential rates structured?
A. Rates are structured individually for each type of non-residential use. To determine an estimated cost to collect and treat wastewater from a non-residential customer, the District calculates the cost based on water usage and a strength classification, which is an average cost to treat wastewater from a particular type of non-residential customer. Thus, a low water user would pay less than a high-water user in the same category of non-residential customers with the same strength classification. And, for two non-residential customers with the same water use, the one with the higher strength classification would pay more.
Q7: What calculations are used to determine non-residential rates?
A. There are three tiers of classifications:
|Water Use Calculation
|Domestic strength users:
|These customers include (but are not limited to): Commercial, office buildings, retail, churches, halls, public agencies, laundromats, service stations, medical offices, hospitals, convalescent/nursing homes, barber/beauty shops, and car washes
|The non-residential sewer service charges account for sewer strength and are based on monthly water usage. The District obtains the average of winter and summer monthly water usage for each non-residential customer
|Elevated strength users:
|from the Marin Municipal Water District. This data is then divided by 8 ccf (hundred cubic feet) in order to convert the usage to equivalent single family residential units
|These customers include (but are not limited to): hotels with food, commercial laundry, and mixed use.
|(also known as “sanitary sewer units” or “SSUs”). The bill is calculated by multiplying the applicable sewer service charge by the number of SSUs. Each account shall pay a minimum of one (1) SSU. Rates are per SSU per year.
|High strength users:
|These customers include (but are not limited to): restaurants, markets with food waste disposal, and bakeries.
|Industrial and other higher-strength users
|Contact the District for information and assistance
|Schools without showers or cafeteria facilities
|0.01 times the annual domestic sewer service charge rate per average daily attendance for students, faculty, and employees.
|Schools with showers or cafeteria facilities
|0.02 times the annual domestic sewer service charge rate per average daily attendance for students, faculty, and employees.
Q8: Does the District apply a “Fairness Principal” to the way rates are structured?
A. Yes. Customers pay only for the actual cost of their service, based on the amount of wastewater generated and the strength classification they are in. Rates are based on wastewater typically generated by a single dwelling unit each day. Sewage from residential customers is the standard against which elevated strength, higher strength, commercial and industrial sewage discharges are measured.
Q9: What are the major benefits from a rate increase?
A. District rates provide for continued effective and efficient high-quality and reliable wastewater collection, treatment and recycling, protection of the environment and the public health, compliance with ever-increasing state and federal regulations, continued sound fiscal practices, and funding of the Capital Improvement Plan.
Q10: How has the District cut costs to minimize the size of the proposed rate increase?
A. The District staff always looks for ways to increase efficiency, reduce supply costs, cut energy use, and other steps. Capital projects are prioritized and have been spaced out or the scope reduced to limit the rate increases.
Q11: How do I offer comments, ask questions or protest proposed rate increases?
A. When a rate change is proposed, all property owners are notified and a public hearing is scheduled. During this process, to ask questions, make comments, or file a protest, you may:
- To Protest the Proposed Changes Protests against the proposed changes in the sewer service charge must be submitted in writing to the District before the end of the public hearing to be held on June 30, 2023 at 4:30 PM. Protests may be mailed/delivered to the District in advance to 101 Lucas Valley Road, Suite 300, San Rafael, CA 94903. Protests must identify the owner(s) of the property or properties for which the protest is entered, and be signed by the property owner. If a majority of owners of affected parcels within the District submit written protests against the proposed changes, the District will not approve the sewer service charge increases. Please be advised that pursuant to Government Code Section 53759(d) there is a 120-day statute of limitation for any challenge to the new, increased or extended fee or charge.
Q12: If enough property owners protest a proposed rate increase, does that mean the rates would not be increased?
A. Yes. If written protests against the proposed sewer service charge rates are presented by a majority of owners of parcels affected, the District will not approve the charge.
Q13: What is the required form that protests must take?
A. Protests against the proposed rate increase must be submitted in writing, must identify the property address and the owner(s) of the property or properties for which the protest is entered, and be signed by the property owner.