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Palo Alto utility-rate increases on docket tonight

Original post made on Mar 5, 2008

Proposed increases in electric, gas and water utility rates will be discussed tonight by the Palo Alto Utility Advisory Commission. If enacted, the average customer will have a 9.6-percent increase in utility bills on July 1.

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Comments (11)

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Posted by Chris
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I guess a "rate increase" is just a nice way of saying they are going to raise taxes. I guess we all have to pay for our share of the California Avenue $185,000 pile of rocks.

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Posted by Mr. BBQ
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Mr. BBQ is a registered user.

What is a disabled person to do on a fixed income? With last years increase and the proposed increase we are looking at approximately a 20% increase. I have cut back as much as I can! I am saddened. This is the final straw that just could due it! Only the rich can afford Palo Alto, a place I call home.

The City needs a reality check!

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Posted by Utilites and Taxes
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:52 pm

A Lawsuite should be the best way to hold this down.

Utilities are considered to be basic life needs and increasing rates is tantamount to increasing taxes. That is the PRIMARY reason the state govenments have "Utilites Commisions" - Alas we are a city utility and we are not governed by regulations on rates enforced by the state.

I hope educated Palo Altans do something about it.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

As the rates go up, so does the amount of Utility Tax that the city rakes off from the residents. With these huge yearly increases, the Utility Tax is a huge 'cash cow',and we are being milked down the river.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Engineers tried to warn you folk when you bought into the anti-corporate, anti-nuke, anti-energy and anti-growth, that the butcher's bill would come due. You took utility planning away from the engineers because they were blinded by the lust for obscene profits and turned it over to the politicians, who only wanted absolute control of the economy. Don't say I didn't warn you when you whipped the system like a rented mule, you fools.

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Posted by Taxes for the City
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Of course the Utility Department is raising rates. Much of their surplus is transferred to the City's general fund to pay for things like the website, California Avenue Statues, an Environmental Czar, a high priced Human Resources person etc. etc. etc.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm

There is a lawsuit possibility here, but it's not a "basic needs" suit. Rather it is a Proposition 13 suit.

As the posters here have pointed out, a big chunk of the city's general fund comes from utility department transfers. In addition to the Utility User's tax and the direct transfers herein mentioned, the city uses dubious accounting in how it charges "rent" to the Utility Department for city-owned space, it transfers functions (like street lights, for example) from the general fund to the utility fund which get folded into utility rates. A year or so ago, it was discovered that the city rents a reservoir from Stanford for a dollar a year and then charges the utility department something like $600,000 a year for use of the property. The difference comes out of utility rates. There are myriad similar examples - as an outside accounting audit surely would show.

These shenanigans are tantamount to raising taxes without a vote - which is not permitted under Prop 13 and follow on initiatives.

Somebody should contact the Howard Jarvis foundation, which enforces prop 13 against just this kind of maneuvering, to see if they'd be interested in investigating this.

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Posted by Disgusted Taxpayer
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 5, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Do our fine city officials read Town Square? It would be great if they'd come here and respond to our issues. Also, is there an email list that offers advance notice of meetings like these?

Like this comment
Posted by Ada
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 5, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Do Palo Alto residents pay more for utilities compared to Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Sunnyvale residents? How much more?

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Posted by Abraham Simpson
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Let's pass a propositon rolling utility rates back to 1978 levels and limit increases to 2% a year. Rates will be raised to the market level when the house is sold. Then we can shift the burden to those fatcats who can afford to buy new houses! Free markets are for fools.

Like this comment
Posted by JW
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:14 pm

"Is there an e-mail list that offers advance notice of meetings like these?" Yes, if you look down "Palo Alto Issues" you'll see an entry on February 29th re: Another Utility rate increase that I posted the day the notice of the meeting and the agenda was first published.

By law notice must be given and the agenda published so many days ahead of the meeting not sure exactly how many. They are published in the PA Weekly.

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