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The proposed rate changes include two main components:
Our costs to deliver water and manage our watershed are changing. MMWD is paying more for everything from electricity, to water treatment chemicals, to wholesale water purchases. We are not alone; utility costs are increasing across the country.
As costs rise, our rates must rise to reflect the cost of providing service.
We need these additional funds to make critical investments into our aging infrastructure. We are the oldest municipal water district in the state of California and our water delivery systems – our pipelines, pump stations and reservoirs – are showing their age. We need to make the investments now, with cash, to avoid paying twice as much in the long run by borrowing the money.
While you will see a small increase in your bill, you’re not just paying more for water, you’re paying for the service. Our customers pay to operate the Mt. Tam Watershed, seven reservoirs, three treatment plants, the entire water delivery system, which includes 900 miles of underground pipelines, 125 storage tanks, and 95 pump stations to deliver high-quality, locally sourced water 24/7, 365 days per year for about penny per gallon.
The Capital Maintenance Fee (CMF) is a charge based on meter size. For customers with a 5/8” meter (almost 70% of our customers) the annual fee would be $163.50, or $13.63 per month.
Funds raised through the CMF will go directly to the District’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is dedicated to maintaining, upgrading, rehabilitating and building resiliency into our existing and aging assets. A portion of the CMF, $1 million per year, will be dedicated to fund increased fire reduction efforts on our watershed.
The CMF will support our 10-year capital improvement plan (which may change as the District’s Asset Management Program gears up), pay for needed capital improvements without escalating debt for normal maintenance, stabilize monthly rates, and save millions of dollars in interest and fees for ratepayers. The CMF will be effective July 1, 2019. Each July 1 thereafter through and including July 1, 2024, the CMF may automatically be increased or decreased to keep pace with inflation. The annual increases/decreases will be benchmarked to the industry standard Engineering News-Record (ENR) Construction Cost Index. Increases will be capped at 4% increases annually. The CMF will not apply to dedicated private fire service lines.
MMWD has established a Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) on Infrastructure Investments to offer input on the CIP regarding investment priorities. The Panel will also review annual expenditures and provide the MMWD Board and management with additional feedback on annual infrastructure funding needs. The CAP presented the MMWD Board a summary letter with recommendations.
By providing dedicated funding for critical infrastructure projects, the CMF allows us to replace aging pipes and storage tanks, upgrade our treatment plants, and manage wildfire risk on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed—without taking on new debt. The CMF will help us avoid $160 million in debt principal over the next 10 years, thereby saving MMWD and our customers an estimated $170 million in long-term interest payments. The small remaining debt capacity the District has is planned to be reserved for emergencies like natural disasters or large one-time investments in the future (such as repairs to dams).
Using meter size to apportion costs is an accepted industry approach for infrastructure-related fees. Meter size represents the potential demand on the system, and not the actual water use a customer may be using at a given time. Commercial and Institutional Private Fire Service Lines are not included in the new fee. Private Fire Service Lines are used only in the very rare event of interior fire and, thus, do not impact demand on the system and associated infrastructure sizing.
MMWD staff is investigating this issue to determine if exemptions can be made.
We use an in-house team of experienced designers, technicians and engineers who are very familiar with the District’s water system and at efficiently putting together clear and comprehensive plans and specifications for complex water capital improvement projects. We then award the construction contract to the lowest responsive bidder, ensuring we are getting a fair price. Our inspectors work closely with the contractor to ensure the project is constructed in accordance with the contract documents and on schedule. We also work closely with every city and town in our district and the county to coordinate scheduling of our projects to minimize public impact and leverage our public works dollars.
Every year MMWD submits an audited financial report to the Board of Directors and the public in accordance with California Government Code section 25253. A Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) was last prepared for fiscal years ending June 2018 and 2017 in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as promulgated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
In 2018, MMWD was awarded its tenth Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its CAFR ending fiscal year 2017, which is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. This award represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management to demonstrate a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story.
Our financial reports are available on our website at: marinwater.org/273/Management-Finance
MMWD’s current median salary is $99,648 and supports a highly skilled, professional, technical staff. When you turn on your tap and clean water appears, it is not by accident. MMWD’s skilled workforce operates our water system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Because we operate in the public health and safety arena, many of our jobs require special skills and licenses—chemists, engineers, distribution operators, treatment operators, technicians. People with these skills are not easy to come by. Being competitive ensures we have a team of talented individuals taking care of this 107-year-old agency so that it will be in good working condition to meet the needs of those that come after us. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Since 2010, we’ve reduced the number of full time positions from 266 to 240, in addition to reducing hourly and temporary help. We have fully implemented the California Public Employees' Pension Reform Act (PEPRA), thereby limiting future pensions for hires new to the retirement system. We’ve refinanced debt to take advantage of lower interest rates.
The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed—the crown jewel of Marin County—is the primary source of drinking water for our customers. It is a place of unparalleled scenic beauty, home to rare and endangered species, and a popular recreational destination.
Maintaining 21,600 acres of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed has an increasing cost. MMWD’s responsibilities include managing wildfire risks, restoring habitat, protecting rare plants and animals, maintaining access roads and trails, assisting visitors, and preserving the ecological health of the creeks.
MMWD has and will continue to have discounted programs for low-income and medically disabled customers. Both programs waive the fixed fees (service charge and watershed management fee), so you pay only for water used. We can send you more information and an application by mail or email. Visit marinwater.org/discounts or call our Customer Service Department at 415-945-1400.
To provide additional information about the proposed increases, we are holding two public workshops and a hearing. We invite you to attend!
To protest the proposed rates, you must submit your protest in writing, even if you plan to attend the public hearing. If written protests are submitted by a majority of the affected property owners or customers, the proposed rate changes will not be imposed. Only one written protest will be counted per identified parcel.
Your written protest must be received prior to the close of the May 28, 2019 public hearing. Written protests must identify the parcel (parcel number) or utility (MMWD) account number or address for which the protest(s) are submitted. Written protests also must include a signature of the record property owner or utility customer and a statement that the person is opposed to the proposed rates, fees and charges. Send or deliver written protests to:
Marin Municipal Water District
220 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, CA 94925
In the last 10 years, we’ve invested $203 million into upgrading our infrastructure. Some examples of projects include:
Given the size of our infrastructure, and its average age, we need to continually make investments to ensure we can accomplish our mission of delivering safe and reliable water.
The proposed Super Saver Credit Program is designed to benefit the 5% of customers with the lowest water consumption—approximately 3,000 customers. Customers must have water service in their name and the account must be their primary residence. Qualifying customers will receive bi-monthly credits of up to $8.00. There is no need to apply for this program - if you qualify, the credit will be automatically applied to your bill.
Yes. Since September 2017, there have been 22 publicly noticed meetings that have led to the current rate increase proposal. There is also a Citizen Advisory Panel on Infrastructure created to review the Marin Municipal Water District’s next 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The Citizen Advisory Panel on Infrastructure delivered a letter to MMWD’s Board of Directors at the February 19 board meeting. A copy of the letter is available to read here.
The meeting topics and dates are listed below:
Long-Term Debt Management Plan
September 28, 2017
Building a Structurally Balanced Budget
October 26, 2017
Pension and Retiree Healthcare Cost Management
January 25, 2018
Capital Improvement Plan Development Process
February 22, 2018
Expenditures and Projected Annual Cost Increases
March 22, 2018
Strategic Planning Workshop I
April 17, 2018
Revenue Requirements and Funding Options
April 26, 2018
Strategic Planning Workshop II
May 15, 2018
Board Retreat – Budget Planning
June 8, 2018
FY2020-23 Budget Approach Discussion
November 15, 2018
December 19, 2018
Citizen Advisory Panel on Infrastructure Investments
January 19, 2019
Preliminary FY2020-21 Budget Presentation
January 24, 2019
February 8, 2019
Operating and Capital Budget for FY20 and FY21
February 19, 2019
Rate Outreach Plan Update
February 20, 2019
DRAFT 2019 Updated COSA and DRAFT Prop 218
February 28, 2019
Proposed Water Rate Increases
March 5, 2019
Rate Outreach Update
March 8, 2019
March 11, 2019
Presentation of an updated Draft Prop. 218 Notice
March 19, 2019
April 10, 2019
Community Workshop on Rate Proposal #1
April 25, 2019
Community Workshop on Rate Proposal #2
May 15, 2019
Board Hearing on Rate Proposal
May 28, 2019