HOLLISTER, Calif. -- The
city of Hollister may raise the water rates for the first time in a
The rates could go up by as much as 60
percent, forcing the average family to pay more than $60 a month for
Some residents are upset, but the city
says it's impossible for it to keep the water flowing at the current
Residents on the county system have
already seen their rates go up, but the average family of four in the
city pays about $40 a month right now. That bill is about to go up.
The question is, how much?
Hollister residents Joseph and Minnie
Liera have a beautiful garden at their home, but they say they may
have to let all of the colorful flowers shrivel up and die if the city
raises the water rates.
"I'm not very happy about it,
considering that most of us have a limited income in addition to all
these other things going up," said Joseph Liera.
Businesses like Laundromats will spend
a huge chunk of change just to keep the water running, and they may
have to pass that extra cost onto customers. The average business
would see a 26 percent increase, which could cause major problems for
places like car washes down the street.
But some business owners think the
rates have to change because the city didn't plan for so much growth.
"It's a cost of not planning
ahead. I think everyone needs to bite the bullet," said business
owner Armando Tellez.
Hollister hasn't raised the rates in 10
years. City officials say customers are paying less for water than it
costs the city to operate the system.
"Operational costs operate on a
loss," said Hollister City Manager Clint Quilter.
For the Lieras, water is a necessity
more than a luxury for the garden, and they think the city should
raise the rates gradually.
Until just a few weeks ago, the city
was using more than 90 percent of the interest from the water fund to
pay for day-to-day city expenses -- something that is generally
frowned upon. So, city leaders say the new rate increase would help
cover the deficit from that and put them in a better place for the
The rate increase is not a done deal
yet. The council will meet on Sept. 7, where the public will have a
chance to voice its opinion.