Tax rate to pay for State Water Project likely to remain unchanged

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SCV Water Agency logo. Courtesy

Whatever you paid for water infrastructure last year is what you’re likely to pay for water infrastructure this coming year.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency’s Budget & Rates Committee approved a recommendation Monday that would maintain the same property tax rate SCV customers paid during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

SCV Water’s board of directors is expected to approve the same recommendation when it meets June 5.

The property tax rate is levied to pay SCV’s share of the State Water Project infrastructure which provides us with water from Northern California.

“It’s paying for our community’s share of the capital and operating cost of the State Water Project facilities,” Kathie Martin, SCV Water spokeswoman said, noting the tax is for the “infrastructure, not the water itself.”

“Once (the water) gets to our local area, the costs to treat, pump and deliver the water is paid for out of water rates,” she said.

The unchanged tax rate amounts to 7.06 cents for every $100 assessed on your property. For example, for a home assessed at $500,000, the annual tax would remain at about $353.

“Based on estimated expenditures and revenues, staff recommends no change in the tax rate,” Beverly Johnson, SCV Water’s director of finance, wrote in a memo to the committee.

Johnson pointed out, however, that the cost paid to state officials for delivery of water from Northern California is increasing and that rate hikes are likely in store for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The Northern California water is brought to the SCV according to the terms of the State Water Project.

The cost of delivering that water to the SCV is “increasing at a rapid rate,” Johnson wrote in her memo.

“Based on increasing SWP costs, even with increasing assessed valuations, it is likely that the tax rate will have to increase in the future, perhaps in fiscal year 2019-20.”

Leaving the water rate alone, SCV Water would still, according to Johnson’s estimates, bring in $30.4 million in revenue.

On Apr. 30, 1963, the CLWA—then known as the Upper Santa Clara River Valley Water Agency—signed an agreement with the state to receive 41,500 acre-feet of water each year from Northern California as part of the State Water Project.

Just over a half century since the agreement was hammered out, the CLWA is now contracted with the state to receive more than double the original allotment, or about 95,200 acre-feet of water each year.

About a quarter of every dollar paid by SCV ratepayers goes to covering the costs of receiving water from Northern California.

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