Tag Archives: City of Chico Shit Tax

If you are having trouble figuring out whether or not you should have received a sewer rate increase notice, or how to fill out your protest ballot, please contact us here

31 Dec

I sent this letter to the editor just before Christmas.

It’s been two weeks since I contacted Chico City Clerk and my council rep with questions regarding their sewer rate increase notice. The city wants to add a $1.22/ccf “volume” charge to our sewer bills, based on the amount of water we buy from Cal Water, essentially double charging us for water. They are required by law to answer any questions we have regarding this notice before the January 17 hearing

My first question: I received a notice even though my property is not hooked up to sewer. The law states that if 51% of property owners noticed protest in writing, they can’t raise our rates. But, only people who get a sewer bill are allowed to protest. The number of protests needed is based on notices sent out. Am I allowed to vote, or did they send me a notice in order to raise the number of protests needed? 

Second question: The city is discussing selling the sewer plant to Cal Water. This notice is not just a rate increase, it’s a forever change in the way they figure the bill, allowing annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index. If they go through with the purchase, will Cal Water be able to raise our rates without going through CPUC hearings? 

Those “affected” must protest in writing by January 17. Why would city staff and council send a time-sensitive rate increase notice at Christmas, and then use the holiday as an excuse not to answer our questions?  

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I have not received any response from the city, but I’ve done some research of my own, and found one answer – I received a notice even though I am not hooked up to sewer because I could hook up if I wanted to. That make sense to you? Okay. I’ve also heard from other property owners who have or have not received notices. It seems they sent these notices only to Cal Water customers, although, I’ll guess, they might have sent them to people who have both wells and septic tanks because they are located within range of sewer and water lines.

The people I’ve heard from who have not received notices do not have a Cal Water account – they live in apartments, so only their landlord/property owner can vote. Apartment owners’ votes may be “weighted” as counting more than single family home owners – they didn’t explain that in the notice either. They didn’t explain who is able to vote or how much each vote “weighs”.

I still have other questions, including the second asked above – a can of questions really – is Cal Water still considering buying our sewer plant, and will this rate change make it possible for them to raise rates annually without notices or hearings? I’ll guess the answers to both questions are Yes and Yes, but we won’t know until after the hearing.

Here’s something I read just this morning – again, I don’t think the notices are correct. I think they were supposed to enclose a ballot. Also, I think they were supposed to make it more clear on the outside of the envelope that a vote was taking place. I’m going to guess that a lot of these notices went right in the garbage because people didn’t understand what they were getting.

“The face of the envelope mailed to the property owner with the ballot and notice must contain, in at least sixteen-point type, the following statement in substantially the following form: “OFFICIAL BALLOT ENCLOSED.”75 The ballot must include the special district’s address for the receipt of any completed ballot and a place for the property owner to indicate his or her name, a reasonable identification of the parcel subject to the proposed assessment, and his or her opposition to or support for the proposed assessment.”

One thing I know for sure is the city purposely waited until Thanksgiving to notice us about this rate change because they knew people would not be prepared and it would probably be a shoo-in. And remember, it’s not just a rate increase, it’s a change in the way they figure and raise your rates, permanently. You will never have another opportunity to have anything to say about how they charge you for your sewer service, or how much.

If you need help figuring out if you were supposed to receive a notice, or how to submit a protest vote please contact us here.