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Water rate hike delayed 1 month

Crescent City’s new water rates will take effect a month later than officials anticipated due to a clerical error.

At the request of the staff, the City Council on Monday unanimously re-adopted the water rate ordinance. The rates will now take effect Jan. 15, City Attorney Bob Black said.

City officials initially expected the water rate increases to take effect Dec. 5, 30 days after the Council’s initial approval, Black said. But because staff members took about 30 hours to complete counting and verifying Proposition 218 protest letters, the ordinance wasn’t adopted until Nov. 12. 

“There’s a delay in the increased rates going into effect because of those errors, but the amount doesn’t change,” Black said. 

Monthly rates will increase by $6.16 — or 60 percent — for residential water customers. Rates will increase again by $3.79 in 2014, by $3.44 in 2015, by 72 cents in 2016 and 74 cents in 2017.

The rate increases are necessary to close a $649,000 budget gap in the city’s water fund and enable the city to obtain loan financing for a $4.5 million five-year capital improvement plan, according to city officials. Water rates have not increased in over a decade.

In November, City Clerk Robin Patch, Information Systems Administrator Fritz Ludemann and Debra Wright, an account clerk in the city’s Utilities Department, spent four days counting and verifying protest signatures. 

Opponents needed to submit protests from 1,871 parcels to block the water rate increase, but came up 569 valid protests short.

Also Monday, the Council unanimously accepted the donation of two parcels of undeveloped land from Samuel Sause and his three sisters, Mary Sause, Anne Strangeland and Sara Strangeland. 

Sause and his sisters are relatives of Henry Jr., Curt and Paul Sause, who owned and operated Sause Bros. Ocean Towing Company from 1949 to 1962, according to Community Development Director Eric Taylor. 

The company’s barges ferried lumber from its shipping dock at the foot of B Street, which is now part of Beachfront Park, according to a letter Sause sent to the city in August. 

The first parcel, near the intersection of Front and Second streets between C and D streets, is about 6/10th of an acre and is appraised at $200,000, according to a city staff report. The second parcel on C Street between Second and Third streets is a narrow strip of land of about 3/10th of acre and is appraised at $115,000.

In his letter to the city, Sause said his father and uncles’ business ferried lumber from Crescent City to Los Angeles. The brothers acquired and sold several pieces of property and gave Samuel Sause and his sisters four lots. The family donated one lot to the city and another to the church.

Sause said he and his sisters had the two parcels since 1986 and had tried to develop them with Don Puccini, whose family owned the nearby West Coast Crab facility. Puccini’s death caused that partnership to fall through.

Since then, Sause said he and his sisters have tried to attract another developer for the two parcels, but have had zero interest.

“We’re really pleased to be part of your expansion of Crescent City,” said Sause, who now lives in Alameda. “We’re hoping you can take the property and do something really nice.”

Sause said he’d like to see the parcels incorporated into the city’s “waterfront beautification” development plan. 

In addition to their latest donations, the Sause family has given 1.76 acres of land to the city. That land donation has become Beachfront Park’s northwest corner, Taylor said.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


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