YUCCA VALLEY — Some Hi-Desert Water District customers will be charged for the new sewer system on their monthly water bills starting in the next couple of months, the board of directors decided Wednesday, Sept. 11.
At their regular board meeting, the directors and approved the billing process for sewer service charges, a fee that equates to $42.75 per month for the fiscal year 2019-2020.
The charges, which cover operations and maintenance costs and debt obligations on a loan to construct the system and treatment plant, are expected to appear on bills within the next couple of months as the first customers connect to the new collection system.
“As customers connect to sewer, we need to begin collecting the necessary fees to ensure a smooth transition to the new system and to maintain the financial health of the district,” board Vice President Roger Mayes said in a released statement.
Ultimately, the fee will be charged annually as part of property tax bills for residential properties, but with those properties connecting through the rest of the year, some would miss the annual property tax fillings.
The board voted to collect the assessment on monthly residential water bills until it can be billed through the San Bernardino County assessor’s office.
“This is an exciting time in our community’s history,” Mayes said.
“The new sewer collection system and wastewater reclamation facility are a regional asset that will help us protect our water supply and support the area’s businesses and residents.”
A five-year schedule of sewer rates was established by the board in January 2016 after a public hearing. The rates are based on an independent study that identifies the money necessary to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the sewer system each year.
Rates are scheduled to increase by 3 percent per year through 2022 to cover growing operating costs as more people connect to the wastewater system.
The district has secured millions of dollars in federal, state and local grants, as well as debt forgiveness and low-interest loans to help fund the $150 million project.
Property owners in phase one voted to form an assessment district to finance construction costs.
Private residential connections in the first phase are expected to begin by the end of 2019 and conclude in 2021; phases two and three are expected to be completed by 2025.