Sewer fee hikes axed

That’s right, at a time when fiscally-strapped cities in the San Gabriel Valley — and across the state — are implementing extra assessment fees and sales tax increases to make up for budget shortfalls, La Puente is giving their residents a break.

Here are snippets of a story of a story I wrote for Sunday’s paper:

At a special meeting Thursday night, the City Council failed to garner the minimum four votes it needed to pass a proposed three-year sewer assessment fee increase to help pay for the city’s aging sewer infrastructure.
Councilman Dan Holloway — who along with Councilwoman Lola Storing made up the dissenting votes — said he would not support such an increase because of the current economic condition. But he warned that the fee structure could change in the future.
Officials had been considering a three-year incremental sewer charge increase that could have tacked on as much as $21 to residents’ current annual sewer fees.
A rate study by Walnut Creek-based Hilton, Farnkopf and Hobson outlined rate increases through the 2010-11 fiscal year, including a proposed rate of $105 for a single-family residence for 2008-09, $125 for 2009-10, and $140 for 2010-11.
The current rate is $84 for that residential category.
But the proposed hikes were met with heavy opposition.
Despite the proposal’s failure, city officials say sewer upgrades will continue as planned and without delays, considering the city has already taken out a $10 million bond for the project.

A lot of people spoke against the fee hike during the meeting, including one very special guest: former La Puente Mayor Louis Perez.

Perez supported a fee hike before failing to get re-elected back into office last year. On Thursday, his comments took a 180.

“The people of La Puente, they don’t mind shelling out some money to pay for their sewer, but this is a big project, a long project,” he said. “They want things to basically stay where they are at. The same level where they can afford it.”

While residents may have dodged the fees this year, officials made it pretty clear Friday that the council will likely have to consider this again in the future. Hopefully, residents won’t get stuck with a more expensive fee plan later.