bblcity-thumbWater rates are going up for Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power customers, given last night’s 3-2 vote by City Council in favor of the rate restructuring. The first of two increases, which averages nine percent, takes effect in January, with a second increase of nine percent for all customer classes scheduled for 18 months later, in July 2011. Though water rates will be higher, the DWP’s General Manager Joel Dickson explains that, given the restructuring, water bills will actually amount to less for typical, residential customers once the 12 percent residential increase is implemented in 2010. As explained by Dickson prior to Council’s final October 26 vote, “The overall system-wide increase is nine percent, which won’t be applied across-the-board, but that will be the average increase. We’ve set a minimum bill equal to 4ccfs and, by setting a minimum bill, not every customer who is a residential customer will experience a 12 percent increase. A typical, full-time customer uses 6ccfs per month, and their bill will actually decrease by an average of two percent per month.” City Council was scheduled to vote on the DWP item during the Monday meeting Consent Calendar, though the item was pulled for discussion, prompted by public comment from Charlie Brewster and Barbara McLean in opposition to the rate increase. As with the vote during first reading at Council’s meeting of October 12, Mayor Rick Herrick, Bill Jahn and Liz Harris voted in favor, again citing issues of fire safety and responsible infrastructure maintenance, while Darrell Mulvihill and Michael Karp, citing their same reasons as last vote, voted against the DWP proposal, which has been two years in the making. Councilmember Liz Harris noted, “No one likes to raise rates; it’s not fun when your constituents aren’t happy with you”; and, citing several workshops and public meetings regarding the increase, added, “Folks, if you’re surprised now, shame on you. This has been out in the open and as transparent as it can be.” Mayor Pro Tem Jahn did point out that the City was opposed to the rate increase proposal of Bear Valley Electric Service, and fought to keep that down. As approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, outlined on KBHR last week, the BVES rate increase will be 19.97 percent—rather than 22.7 as originally proposed—and phased in over four years, starting with a 15.85 percent increase to electric customers in the November 2009 billing cycle. (For background on these issues, click on bolded type to link to an earlier story; or, for all background on the DWP rate increase, click on the DWP link below for all DWP-related stories.)