Glendale City Council voted 6-1 to raise water and sewer rates 6.5% on January 1, 2020, and again on January 1, 2021.
This means a $3.30 increase per month—or about $40 per year—for the average user.
Sewer rates are slated to go up 0.5% for each of those years, said Assistant City Manager Vicki Rio.
Rios said the council must balance keeping the public’s cost down and the need for better water infrastructure.
Vice Mayor Joyce Clark said Glendale has not increased the water rates for about 10 years. The change is beneficial for Glendale’s future, she added.
“I understand the need for the rate increase because we have committed to so many remedial capital projects,” Clark said.
Clark sympathized with the senior population and said the council must discuss possible solutions to help those who need assistance with water bills.
“Seniors are on a fixed income. They don’t get 4.5% rate increases in social security every year, and many seniors rely upon social security as their only source of income,” Clark said. “I’m going to ask at our next workshop that we explore something, I don’t know what it will be, but some methodology to provide some kind of relief to our senior-age population.
“I think we can afford it, quite frankly, I think it’s the moral thing to do.”
Councilman Ray Malner said the city is working on a solution to provide relief to seniors.
“The water department came back with a proposal to put money into an account that any citizen in the city who needs assistance with their water rate,” he said. “I would implore all those who are on a fixed income to at least explore that and take a look and see if they qualify.”
Councilman Bart Turner added the city does have a utility assistance program to help those with financial limitations and encourages those individuals to contact the water department to see if they qualify.
Although Turner was sympathetic toward seniors, but he did stress the importance of keeping younger generations in mind when providing tax breaks.
“If we give all seniors a (tax) break, that means everybody else, including young families just trying to start out in life, single moms with kids, or whatever, their rates are going to go up and it’s going to be harder for them,” Turner said. “So, council to council, if we do anything down the road, let’s keep it needs-based rather than age-based and with that I vote aye.”
Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff agreed with most of the council about the need for better water infrastructure and the increase in water rates.
Ocotillo District Councilman Jamie Aldama voted against the resolution. He said the city should pay close attention to how it is spending money in its districts.
“In my opinion, the city needs to start expanding its tax payers’ dollars equitably throughout the city,” Aldama said. “I don’t feel enough is being spent in the Southern district. I couldn’t in good conscience raise the water rates for my constituents.”
Aldama said the city lacks spending in areas like parks and community centers.
“We need to start looking at expanding dollars more thoughtfully in our district,” Aldama said.
Mayor Jerry Weiers agreed with the increase.
“Some of our lines are getting older and we have to maintain those,” he said.
Weiers shared an experience from his time in Texas. He said the town had a reservoir, and its water would contaminate the city’s water system during the summers. It caused the water department to introduce an abundance of chemicals to the city’s water.
Weiers said the smell was too strong for the average person, and is a situation he does not want to see again.
“I certainly remember the smell of that water and it was horrible and I don’t ever want to see this city get into a situation where any of you have to put up with that,” Weiers said.