The Turlock City Council will hold the final reading on Tuesday to approve the proposed water rate increases for Turlock residents that are set to take place over a five-year span.
During the March 25 public hearing, a split vote of 3-2 moved the resolution forward despite much public opposition. According to state law, the City Council could decide to the move forward with the increased water charges and fees unless they received written protests representing a majority of the parcels affected - or roughly 8,770 ballots for Turlock. After all ballots were counted, the city clerk reported that the city had only received approximately 600 protest ballots - well beneath the amount needed to keep the new fees from being imposed.
Although the city is no longer accepting protest ballots, as they could only be submitted until the end of the public hearing held on March 25, the public is still able to voice their opinion on the water rate increases during the final reading to be held on Tuesday.
The proposed changes would see six rate increases take place over the next 5 years, with the first increase taking effect July 1. The second increase is scheduled for January 1, 2015, with the remaining increases occurring annually thereafter until 2019. Compiled of three primary charges, the initial proposed rate structure in July would charge a single/multi-family residency a commodity charge of 48 cents per 1,000 gallons, a capacity charge of $17.50 a month, and a customer charge of $2.20 per month.
On Tuesday, the City Council will also be holding a public hearing on Councilmember Steven Nascimento's campaign contribution ordinance that had been previously postponed due to public opposition. The ordinance, which has also garnered a lot of public support from those calling for Council transparency, would ensure that Turlock City Councilmembers could not vote for or make any political decision that would directly benefit a major campaign contributor.
"All that this ordinance would require is that if a major campaign contributor made a $2,000 or more contribution to a Councilmember, then that Councilmember must recuse him or herself from decisions relating to the direct benefit of that donor," said Nascimento, during a February Council meeting. "As it stands right now, a Councilmember could receive a campaign contribution, and then a week later, turn around and vote in favor of that contributor, which I think to the public would seem deplorable."
At the time, council members Amy Bublak and Bill DeHart requested that the item be postponed to allow more time for public input and understanding of the ordinance. Since then, Bublak and Nascimento have been working together to review the ordinance, which is expected to be voted on come Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday, the City Council is also expected to:
• Authorize the police department to recruit for the classification of Police Officer Trainee and sponsor successful applicants through a police academy;
• Receive an update on capital projects and building activity;
• Review precision concrete sidewalk repairs occurring within the city;
• Proclaim April 13-19 National Library Week;
• Recognize City of Turlock volunteers.
The Turlock City council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway Avenue.