Summary and Current Status
In January 2018, the City hired a consultant to prepare a detailed 2018 Water Rate Study. After four public workshops, the City Council received the report on June 25, 2018 and agreed rate adjustments were needed to continue providing a reliable water supply. Notices concerning proposed water rate increases were mailed to City water customers and property owners July 5, 2018. A public hearing was held on August 20, 2018 to consider proposed increases in the City’s rates and charges for water service. The City Council approved three (3) years of proposed rate increases. The new rates will be effective September 1, 2018.
See Frequently Asked Questions, Updates, Documents and Background & Summary Below
Background & Summary
The City of Sonoma owns and operates a water transmission and distribution system with the service goal of providing clean drinking water to customers. The City’s Water Utility is funded through the Water Enterprise Fund, which means that costs and revenues are segmented in a separate fund outside of the City’s General Fund.
The creation of rates to charge water customers requires a detailed financial and rate analysis process in order to create a sustainable financial plan and an optimal rate structure based on various policy objectives, as well as to ensure compliance with Proposition 218 (a state law that limits the methods by which local governments can create or increase taxes, fees and charges).
Due to several factors including the recent unprecedented drought, continual changes in laws governing water rates, and concerns raised by members of the public, the City Council budgeted funding in the FY 17/18 budget and directed staff to initiate a comprehensive water rate study and analysis. On August 15, 2017, the City released a Request for Proposal to prepare a water rate study to update the City’s November 2014 Water Rate Study.
On November 20, 2017, the City Council approved a contract with Raftelis Financial Consultants to conduct a detailed water rate study, as well as a contract with Michael Colantuono, an expert legal advisor who specializes in water rate studies and water law. The water rate study was conducted over a six-month period (January – June 2018) with Raftelis leading four public presentations/workshops during regular City Council meetings. The City Council received the report on June 25, 2018 and agreed rate adjustments are needed to continue providing a reliable water supply.
The four informational sessions and dates are shown below.
- Workshop #1, January 31, 2018 - Study Process Overview and Introduction to Rate Structures and Rate Setting Objectives
- Workshop #2, March 19, 2018 - Financial Plan for the City’s Water Enterprise
- Workshop #3, June 4, 2018 - Cost of Service Analysis and Proposed Rate Structure
- Workshop #4, June 25, 2018 - Rate Study Proposed Rates and Draft Report
In July, the City mailed notices concerning proposed water rate increases were to City water customers and property owners. To read the full notice concerning proposed water rate increases, public hearing information and frequently asked questions, download Water Rates Notice – Part 1 and Water Rates Notice – Part 2.
A public hearing was held on August 20, 2018 to consider proposed increases in the City’s rates and charges for water service. The City Council approved three (3) years of proposed rate increases. The new rates will be effective September 1, 2018.