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Lovingood Blocks Steep Water and Sewer Rate Hikes

( – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Tuesday opposed a series of proposed water and sewer rate hikes, some more than 80 percent, saying the increases were not justified and would cause unnecessary hardships on many residents of unincorporated areas.

The proposed 5-year water rate increases would have increased bi-monthly water rates by an average of 63 percent (or $122) in CSA 64 Spring Valley Lake; 70 percent (or $117) in CSA 70 Oak Hills and 81 percent (or $116) in CSA 42 Oro Grande.

“I have serious concerns about the significant cost First District constituents could incur as a result of these drastic fee increases,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert A. Lovingood said. “The 5-year increase would be 71.6 percent, and that’s just for water.”

Lovingood also said he had concerns about how the public was notified of a January meeting to discuss the proposed rates. In February, the Special Districts Department sent out notices to County Service Area customers announcing the proposed increases. Hundreds of residents sent letters of opposition and several spoke out at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The Board unanimously agreed to ask staff to relaunch public outreach efforts and give the public, the Board and staff time to further evaluate projected costs and capital improvements.

“This is the result of the citizens of Spring Valley Lake coming together,” said resident Jim Nahom, who spoke in opposition to the proposed rate increase. “And our voices were heard. It made a difference.”

The Board voted 5-0 to reject rate increases and continue existing water and sewer rates in 10 of 13 special districts, including Spring Valley Lake, Oak Hills, Oro Grande and Lenwood. The Board approved small rate increases in Bloomington, Glen Helen and Searles Valley. A consensus among Searles Valley residents showed support for proposed increases because of deteriorating infrastructure.

(source: Robert Lovingood news release)

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