Hollister council OKs water discount for low-income seniors

A sprinkler head shoots out water in the early morning at the El Modeno Gardens Inc facility on Orchard road.

Hollister City Council members Monday approved a 25 percent discount on the first tier of water use for low-income senior citizens.
The council Monday OK’d the 25 percent discount for low-income seniors starting Aug. 20 in a 4-0 vote. It will be for just the first tier in the tiered system, which charges higher rates as water use increases in monthly period.
The city before implementing new rates in January 2014 maintained a discount program for low-income seniors. An agenda report on the item claims the city can subsidize the discount through the general fund, while rate payers are not allowed to subsidize the discount as state law forbids it. In the case of the city, the rate payers are the same taxpayers funding the general fund, which will pay for the subsidies.
In August 2013, the Hollister City Council unanimously approved the Hollister Urban Area Water Project along with rate hikes to pay for $30 million in capital and maintenance costs largely related to lowering salt content in groundwater. State regulators had threatened fines if federal water standards were not met.
The new rates kicked in after the January 2014 cycle.
As an example, for a single-family residence with a five-eighths-inch meter in the Sunnyslope Water District, the average rate went from $49.52 to $55.09 at the time, according to a fact sheet from the district. The rates would increase incrementally for the next five years through 2019 under the plan. By 2019, that same family would pay an additional $12 on the water bill under the new rate increases, according to the district.

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