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Inyokern CSD discusses water rate hikes

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher– At the beginning of the Inyokern Community Service District (CSD) meeting on Wednesday, January 10, Rodney Classen from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office introduced himself, stating that he was an investigator.

Rodney Classen Kern County District Attorney’s Office / Laura Austin Photo

Classen told The News Review that he was aware of some of the problems with water service that the CSD was facing and that it had been a long-term, festering problem. He was aware of the problems and hoped that he could help look for steps to accomplish that. “We need to keep the water flowing,” he said. Reportedly, the CSD Board is not adhering to the charter or the by-laws. A Board member asked for a copy of these documents and found they were not available in the current files. Also, another concern is that the CSD has not done an audit for more than 20 years. It is required by law that this be done annually.

The Board is also considering a water rate increase. They stated that they were providing a written notice of the proposed water rate increase, initiating a 45-day protest period, and setting a public hearing to consider the adoption of increased water rates. If approved, more information will be sent to their customers, including how to file a protest. Upon approval of the Board, the Water Rate Analysis Report will be available at inyokern.net/icsd and at the District Office during regular business hours.

A private consultant, Carl Brown, was hired to do a rate study. The proposed increase is from the current rate of $27.49 plus $9.00, which is to the Groundwater Authority (GA), the total being $36.45.

According to some ratepayers, the $9.00 is being collected but is not being paid to the GA.

A $43.61 rate would apply to those who have a meter size of 0.625. This accounts for more than 90% of the ratepayers. The commercial accounts, such as the Inyokern Airport, would pay $191.48.

Chair Tim Carroll said we need to decide if we want to accept Brown’s Report. A motion was made and seconded to accept the Report. Motion carried, two ayes and one nay.

According to the Board, the increase is necessary to restore the District’s financial integrity so it can continue to provide a reliable water service. The proposed rates account for inflation, required system maintenance and repairs, and regulatory compliance. In particular, the District must immediately implement a meter maintenance and replacement program. Many meters are not measuring use accurately; thus, some customers have not been properly charged for the amount of water they use. The District Water Rate Analysis Report provides information about the proposed new rates and charges. It is available for review at the District Office at 1429 Broadway, Inyokern. An electronic copy is available at inyokern.net/icsd.

The public hearing is slated for February 29 at 6 pm, location TBA.