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Gridley Herald

Live Oak Council Addresses Utility Rates

May 08, 2024 03:23PM ● By Sharon Pearce

LIVE OAK, CA (MPG) - Live Oak Interim City Manager Mark Scott continued to set priorities to address utility rates.

Water rates have not kept up with the economics of the time and have not been raised for 18 years, Scott said. While the sewer rates received a slight bump about eight years ago, according to Scott, neither are in balance with the city’s economic needs.

Scott said a comprehensive study and financing plan was now needed to prevent the city from falling further behind in availing itself of various grant monies that would help it meet costs. He also requested a sewer enterprise rate study.

“There are grants out there we are not eligible for unless we have a current water study,” Scott said. “They are very substantial and a lot of work. Our water fund is in a very bad situation and our General Fund speaks to that.”

Scott explained the rate changing process: “(If) you get out of whack in relation to different rate categories, it exposes you to litigation that can be very problematic.” Scott said he would bring quotes to City Council and emphasized “waiting is not a good thing.”

Councilmember Bob Woten said, “I think we did a study but didn’t do an increase. I’m all in favor.”

Councilmember Jeramy Chapdelaine added, “I think the studies were done in 2015-16.  I think the sewer rate was changed slightly; water did not go through.” Chapdelaine added that “so much has changed relative to capital outlays so I think we should get both sewer and water rate quotes.”

Councilmember Lakhvir Ghag said, “It cost us about $100K for the earlier rate study but council kept asking questions and we failed to raise the rates. Every time you ask a question, the price goes higher.”

Mayor Ashley Hernandez commented about pricing.

“We are not doing a service to the city and residents if we do not raise the rates,” Hernandez said. “It is hurting us that we can’t get grants.”

City Council directed the city manager to look into water and sewer rate options and related matters.

Councilmembers agreed that setting up Food Truck Friday for the last Friday of each month, especially through August, might be a popular attraction.

“They bring people out, walking around and relaxed; it uses the old downtown area, and brings additional revenue to the city,” Ghag said.

The Archer Avenue Emergency Repair was reported essentially done.

“Most people have gone to microsystem and hardly anyone uses ditch water anymore,” Ghag said. “People just want the work done, so the pump operation is ready as a standby lift pump in case we need it.”

Lindsey Alvarez, a resident, forwarded a letter, made available to read on the City Council’s screen, containing critical comments on dogs and other animals running loose in the streets causing danger and a nuisance, as well as a need for more maintenance in the city parks to make them safe and clean for children playing.

This opened the door for discussion on Sutter Animal Control Authority (SASA).

Councilmember Bob Woten reported the city was over budget now as to animal control, saying licensing revenue has dropped because people are only buying licenses if they are taking animals for grooming, where it is required.”

Ghag added, “Dogs don’t come out until after Animal Control is done” for the day, so they rarely catch them. He added “it’s all about money,” referring to Sutter Animal Control Authority.

Sutter Animal Control Authority is comprised of Sutter County, Yuba City and Live Oak as a Joint Powers Authority and is responsible for animal control throughout Sutter County.  The agency is located at 200 Garden Highway, Yuba City. Woten reported there were two vacancies on the vet side.

Scott reported he would “explore a bit about the animal program and the financials” and will bring them up in the budget context. 

In other news, Hernandez nominated Michelle Serpa to the one seat available on the Planning Commission and the nomination unanimously passed. The meeting ended by retiring to Closed Session to consider the Public Employee Appointment: City Manager, Pursuant to California Government Code Section 54957(b).