Newport Beach endorses sewer rate increase

NEWPORT BEACH  – Residents who receive sewer services from the city could see a small rate increase as part of an effort by the city to make its wastewater system financially stable and cover improvement projects.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the city council voted 6-1, with Mayor Kevin Muldoon opposing, to approve the first reading of the proposed sewer rate adjustment that averages around a $2.35 increase per month for single-family households.

The Sewer Fund has been operating at a deficit since 2010. A proposed rate increase was scrapped last year in favor of using $3.5 million from the General Fund to keep the sewer system running.

“We talk about responsibility and we talk about fiscal preparedness, and frankly that’s what we’re doing,” Councilman Will O’ Neill said about the rate increase.

A final vote on the matter is expected to take place at the council’s Sept. 26 meeting.

Councilman Scott Peotter said he wished the rates could be higher

“These rates are not going up in the way that I would like it to go up,” he said, adding it will still cover the cost to make the Sewer Fund self-sufficient.

“Maintaining sufficient funds to keep the wastewater system is necessary given that a spill could result in beach closures that could harm the ecosystem and the city’s tourism industry and result in major fines,” said Councilwoman Diane Dixon.

“It is raw sewage that we are preventing from entering our harbor if a pipe were to break,” she said. “This is our insurance policy.”

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