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Santa Rosa switches course, OKs two years of water rate hikes

The Santa Rosa City Council approved two years' worth of water and sewer increases Tuesday, reversing last month's decision to only approve a one-year rate hike.

The council voted 5-1 to back the two-year plan, which will result in an average family's combined water and sewer bill going up 3.3 percent in 2015 and 3.4 percent in 2016.

City officials said the increases are needed to keep the city keep pace with the rising costs of water and energy, as well as to better balance usage and fixed charges.

Councilman Jake Ours, who didn't support the two-year increases last month, changed his mind after receiving more information about the budget implications of the new rates.

The additional information detailed how the city could save millions by funding wastewater projects with cash instead of debt. City officials estimate they can save upwards of $100 million over 30 years by limiting debt and using a pay-as-you-go approach.

Councilman Gary Wysocky voted against the new rates, saying they are already higher than most surrounding communities.


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