m1w sewer rate increase protest

Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce president Moe Ammar leads a protest against the proposed Monterey One Water sewer rate increase in front of Monterey City Hall on June 4. 

A proposal that would more than double the cost of sewer service in the region over the next five years and has drawn the rage of the area’s hospitality and business interests heads to a board for final approval on June 7.

The board of directors for Monterey One Water, the regional wastewater management service, will vote on the proposed schedule of rate increases. If approved, ratepayers will see a 47-percent jump in their sewage bills after July 1. By 2025, rates would be 122-percent higher than they are today.

Monterey One Water officials have been advertising the rate increases to local governments and organizations since the board of directors tentatively approved the fee schedule back in March. M1W’s staff said the increase is needed to maintain and update the utility’s $750 million infrastructure assets, some of which are more than 30 years old.

However, hospitality and business interests, as well as some residents, have tried to organize against the proposed increase, calling the hike too sharp. A group of 16 business and tourism representatives gathered in front of Monterey City Hall with signs and speeches against the increase. Residential ratepayers have also tried to organize objections.

Through the Prop. 218 process, ratepayers can block a proposed increase if more than 50-percent of ratepaying accounts object. Mike McCullough, spokesperson for M1W says only 2,191 protests have been processed, or about 3.6-percent of the roughly 60,000 accounts.

M1W will seek final approval of the rate increase from the board of directors on June 7. In March, the board, which is made up of appointed elected officials across the service area, approved the ceiling for the rate increase—the 122-percent increase by 2025. McCullough says the June 7 meeting is not an all-or-nothing vote on the increase. Rather, the board could vote to approve a smaller increase.

Tonight’s meeting is at 6 pm through Zoom and can be accessed here. The public is encouraged to weigh in. 

Christopher Neely covers a mixed beat that includes the environment, water politics, and Monterey County's Board of Supervisors. He began at the Weekly in 2021 after five years on the City Hall beat in Austin, TX.

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