The Orange County Water District board has voted to raise rates in the spring to make up for the loss of $15.4 million in local property tax revenues to the state, district officials said Friday.
Water customers in north and central county will see their monthly bills increase by about 60 to 70 cents, officials said. The surcharge will go into effect in April and continue for two years.
The district manages and distributes groundwater supplies that serve 2.3 million people in north and central Orange County. The district typically gets two-thirds of its $25-million annual budget from local property taxes it collects.
But pressed by a fiscal crisis, Sacramento passed legislation this year to take $350 million in property taxes collected for local purposes and redirect the money to the state for two years.
"It's a big hit for us," said Denis Bilodeau, water district board president. The district will lose one-third of its tax revenues next year. "The state needs to fix itself and live within their revenues," he said. "It's a phony way of raising taxes without them having to vote on it."
Bilodeau said that last year the district was forced to cut staffing and postpone several projects to keep water prices low.
While the price of water fluctuates each year depending on supply, customers typically see about a 25-cent increase in their monthly bill, district officials said.