Cambria CSD approves another rate hike

As it has done multiple times in recent years, the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors approved water and sewer rate increases last week.

On Oct. 4, the CSD held a ratepayer protest hearing, as required by California’s Proposition 218. Ratepayers submitted 1,268 protest votes, which fell about 700 short of the 50 percent plus 1 tally needed to upend the planned rate hike, the hearing official said. [Tribune]

District board members then noted the size of the protest was significant. However, the board voted unanimously to approve the rate hike, which will take effect on Nov. 1. Increases will be spread out over three years.

According to a district staff report, as of next month, the average utility bill for a single-family home will increase from $180.65 to $211.30. Critics say the initial increase under the new rate hike will be higher than what the district is projecting.

Cambria CSD officials say the water and sewer rate hikes are needed to fund aging infrastructure.

In the weeks prior to the Oct. 4 hearing, district officials had to resend notices about the planned rate hike, as well as postpone the ratepayer protest date, because of CSD mishaps while notifying the public. Additionally, the CSD board decided to part ways with the district’s general manager in the lead-up to the rate hike.

On Aug. 31, the CSD board met in a special closed session hearing in which it voted unanimously to negotiate a severance deal with district GM Jerry Gruber.

Gruber had served as the district’s top executive since 2011. Over his tenure, Gruber came under fire for a variety of issues, including an expensive water project; multiple water and sewer rate hikes; discrepancies in CSD accounting; and his own high pay, which reached more than $250,000 in salary and benefits.