SCV Sanitation District to consider rate increase  

Matt Eaton, the Sanitation District's deputy assistant chief engineer, whose role is essentially CFO, discusses the proposed rate changes and outreach Monday. Perry Smith/ The Signal
Matt Eaton, the Sanitation District's deputy assistant chief engineer, whose role is essentially CFO, discusses the proposed rate changes and outreach during a March 18 meeting. Perry Smith/ The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District officials Monday approved a schedule of discussion as part of the required public notice for rate increases on two different potential schedules for county sewer fee ratepayers.  

After a May 20 public hearing, the board is expected to give staff instruction on which rate schedule to go with, and then the rate is expected to be formally adopted May 29. 

The standard annual fee is paid by residential and commercial users to cover maintenance and operational costs of the wastewater system and to pay for upgrades to capital facilities in each district. 

Despite cost increases for the district, the rate hasn’t changed since 2019. Advanced treatment is expected to represent about 25% of the district’s ongoing cost, according to Matthew Eaton, the district’s deputy assistant chief engineer. 

“That’s the primary driver of the rates,” Eaton said, referring to the advanced-treatment costs, the responsibility for which was previously the subject of a yearslong legal battle wherein district ratepayers ultimately did not prevail.  

The lawsuits involved the cost of treatment plants for removing salt from the effluence sent downstream to Ventura County, where salt-sensitive crops like avocados and strawberries are grown. Such cost is also the main reason why SCV residents aren’t legally allowed to have water softeners that use salt. 

Eaton also said the proposed rate schedules cover costs that have gone up districtwide in line with inflation  

The first option for a rate increase is an initial hike that would raise the rate, currently $370 a year, to $437 the first year with a five-year maximum of $531. 

The second option calls for a lower initial hike, to $403, but the long-term ceiling was expected to be $569, which would ultimately be a nearly 54% increase. 

Eaton said he also liked to explain it in monthly terms as “it translates more to a typical utility bill” in that context. If a homeowner bundles the cost with their property tax payments with their home lender, for example, the figure will represent the difference in their monthly mortgage. 

Right now, the $371 translates to roughly $31 a month, Eaton said, and the one with a larger initial increase ends at about $44 per month, whereas the second rate with the more level increase throughout ends at about $47.42 per month. 

Sanitation District rates vary significantly throughout Los Angeles County based on operating costs, with Palmdale paying a little over $622 per year in District 20, and Lancaster paying nearly $488 in District 14. 

Members of the board — L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth and Councilwoman Laurene Weste — ultimately decided the best option would be to put the information to the voters on both options through a public outreach campaign and then come back in May to make a decision. 

The rates would take effect July 1. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS