Triplicate Staff

Opponents of a city water rate increase now know how many valid protests will be needed to stop it.

City Clerk Robin Patch said Friday the total number of parcels for which protests can be submitted is 3,741.

"Based on my consultation with the City Water Department and with the great assistance from the City Information Technology services, we have arrived at the total of 3,741 as the 'universe' of parcels that receive water service and are therefore eligible to have a protest counted," Patch said in a press release.

"If 50 percent plus one of that total have protests submitted by the close of the public hearing at the City Council meeting on Nov. 4, the protest will be successful."

"It is important to remember that it is the number of parcels represented, not the raw number of protests, that determines whether the protest is successful," Patch added.

Patch will be responsible for tabulating the protests.

The Crescent City Council recently approved an increase in monthly water rates by $6.16 - or 60 percent- starting in December for the average residential customer who uses 1,600 cubic feet of water per month. The rates would then increase by $3.79 in 2014, $3.44 in 2015, 72 cents in 2016 and 74 cents in 2017, according to city staff.

The additional revenue would pay for upgrades to make the system more reliable and earthquake resistant, as well as to offset current water fund deficits.

If rates aren't increased, Crescent City's water fund will be out of cash by January and it won't be able to make a state loan payment in February, according to Interim Finance Director Susan Mayer. The water fund's projected deficit was $417,000 when the city adopted its 2013andndash;14 budget in June. The current projected deficit is $649,000, according to Mayer.