The Thousand Oaks City Council on Tuesday reluctantly approved a water-rate hike that will add $4 a month to the average household bill starting July 1.
Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski cast the lone opposing vote. Councilwoman Elois Zeanah, who considered registering a protest vote changed her mind and supported the increase. "I feel disenfranchised, we all do, because we have no choice," Zeanah said.
Utilities Director Donald Nelson told the council that the 9.7% rate increase was necessary because the city's water wholesaler, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has raised its prices for the fourth straight year.
The higher fees will go to pay for MWD's massive capital improvement plan, which includes a new water-supply pipeline into Ventura County. Even though their region will benefit from a backup pipeline, Thousand Oaks council members have repeatedly criticized MWD for forcing existing customers to subsidize future growth.
But while they angrily repeated their objections during a public hearing Tuesday night, council members said they had no choice but to pass MWD's increases along to the city's customers.
The city supplies water to 13,460 customers in central Thousand Oaks. The private companies that provide water for Newbury Park and Westlake also buy from MWD and they, too, are planning to boost rates.
When all proposed increases take effect, the average monthly water bill will jump to more than $45 in central Thousand Oaks, nearly $60 in Newbury Park and almost $49 in Westlake.
In addition, customers are likely to see two parcel fees attached to their property-tax bill: $9.58 for the MWD and another $10 for the Calleguas Municipal Water District, which buys MWD water and resells it to about two-thirds of Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks.