Beverly Hills director of public works Shana Epstein outlined proposed adjustments to water and wastewater rates in a town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1 at City Hall. If approved, residents and businesses should expect their rates to change proportionally based on usage over the next four years.
Epstein said the goal of the proposed adjustments is to generate more revenue from water rates to invest in infrastructure and to create more reasonable rates for wastewater usage.
Based on the city’s estimates, customers in single-family homes will see the largest increase in costs. The total water bill for single-family homes with low, average and high-water usage will increase 7.4%, 11.7% and 18.5% respectively by Jan. 1, 2028.
This increase is largely due to a proposed volumetric wastewater quantity charge, which will take into account the amount of wastewater used during each billing period. The city currently charges residents a flat fee for wastewater.
“About 70% of our costs are fixed regardless of how many drops of water we produce,” Epstein said. “But we try to have most of our rates and our revenue come in on the volumetric so that people are in control of their bill, so this is where most of the adjustment is happening.”
According to Epstein, this means residents in single-family dwellings and residents in individual apartment units have been paying the same price for wastewater, despite differences in usage. The city is looking to restructure its wastewater billing method to be more proportionate.
Comparatively, water rates for most customers will increase steadily by about 2% total over the next four years. Wastewater rates for customers in multi-unit dwellings will decrease to varying degrees based on usage.
The proposals are based on the findings of a recent water rates study, which the city conducts every five years to develop a financial plan moving forward.
This year’s rates study concluded that revenue from water must increase by over $6 million during the next five-year period to cover operating expenses and properly invest in infrastructure. The study also found that no additional revenue is needed from wastewater, although it recommends a new approach to wastewater billing for more equitable rates.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure that everyone’s paying for the service they’re receiving,” Epstein said in a Jan. 17 town hall meeting.
The Beverly Hills City Council will vote on the proposed rate adjustments on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. If approved, they will begin to take effect on July 1, 2024.
Residents who oppose the rate adjustments are encouraged to submit their protest vote to the city clerk’s office by Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. Residents can also bring their protest vote to the public hearing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20. Beverly Hills City Hall is located at 455 N. Rexford Drive.
To find out how the proposed changes may affect bills, the city recommends using the water and wastewater bill calculator, which can be found at beverlyhills.org/waterrates. Residents are also encouraged to email questions to [email protected] or call (310)285-2567.