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Rate increases likely for water, sewer and gas bills this year. Here’s what yours might look like

The largest rate hike proposed for Long Beach customers is for water service.

Rate increases likely for water, sewer and gas bills this year. Here’s what yours might look like
The Long Beach Groundwater Treatment Plant Friday, May 17, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

At a Thursday meeting, the Utilities Commission continued to deliberate on possible increases for water, sewer and gas rates that could take effect as early as Oct. 1.

The largest proposed increase is for water service. Currently, the average household water bill is $57. That number would increase to $63 if the department approves the proposed annual budget.

Average gas bills would jump from $55 to $57, according to data shared by Long Beach Utilities.

Even with the increase, Long Beach Utilities will maintain the lowest gas rate in the state compared with SoCalGas, PG&E, SDG&E, and Palo Alto, according to Gas Business Operations Bureau Manager Tony Foster.

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For sewer services, the estimated increase for customers' average sewer bill is approximately $1. The proposal would raise the average bill to $27, which would keep Long Beach the third-lowest compared to other California cities. Only Fresno and Bakersfield would be lower, according to data from Long Beach Utilities.

“Inflation is very, very sticky, we’re seeing it across the board,” Brandon Walker, the department’s finance director, said at the commissioner’s meeting Thursday. “The pace of revenue is not catching up and maintaining with the cost of increases on the expense side.”

Rate increases will likely be necessary beyond next year as well to avoid a catastrophic depletion of funds, officials said Thursday.

“Raising rates once over the past seven years, we were able to do that because the fund balance was quite high,” Walker said. “We’re at a crossroads now where modest, single-digit increases are probably a way of life moving forward.”

While department officials are proposing an 11% increase for water service for the coming fiscal year, increases for the following two years could be as much as 8% per year. For fiscal year 28, the proposed increase will be 7% and the following year 6%.

The department hopes to reduce its reliance on imported water to reduce cost. Part of that plan includes new projects for next year like four new wells, the rehab of four existing wells and three existing storage tanks, as well as treatment plant improvements.

For gas, the proposed increases will bring the rate per thermal equal to SoCalGas rates across almost all rate schedules, adding an additional $6.5 million in revenue.

The vote is set to take place on June 6, after one more budget workshop meeting to discuss the new rates on May 16.

The meetings are held on Thursday mornings at 9 a.m., open to the public, and located at 1800 E. Wardlow Road.

The Long Beach Post laid off Caitlin Antonios on March 22, yet she’s still reporting on the city without pay. Thank Caitlin for her work.


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