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City Facing Sewer Violation
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Riverbank has received a notice of violation from the state authorities requiring it to file a sewer system maintenance plan by Nov. 11 or face serious fines, City Manager Rich Holmer reported shortly before the city council meeting on Monday evening.

The threatened fine amounts to $10,000 a day and could go even higher, Holmer noted, because the state is short of money and serious about imposing heavy fines for non-compliance.

The council was again due Monday to hold the first reading and introduction of an ordinance to raise the sewer rates that was continued from both the Sept 14 and Sept. 28 meetings.

"For the second time in less than a year, staff is requesting the council increase the sewer rates, Holmer wrote in his memo to council members. "Without the proposed increase, the city faces serious penalties, fines and the potential for the immediate repayment of our current sewer bonds. If the latter was to occur, the city would be facing bankruptcy."

To meet the requirements of Proposition 218, staff mailed out the rate increase notice at a cost of $23,500. The city has 6,932 users but to save money sent 5,935 notices to parcel owners only.

Some citizens have argued the notices should be mailed, even if not required by law, to renters besides owners. Staff maintained this is unnecessary and would create confusion and reduplication. Staff is certain the circulation and publication of the increases meet all the legal provisions of Proposition 218.

The proposed rate changes, if enacted, would increase the monthly residential sewer charges by $3.64 per month from $20.15 per month to $23.79 for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

A protest vote by more than 50 percent can stop the proposed increases. In response to 5,935 notices, the city received only 43 protests, coming from 18 individuals, staff noted.