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Chloride public hearing scheduled tonight

Posted: June 30, 2014 5:06 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 5:06 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley residents get their chance tonight to turn thumbs-up or thumbs-down on a proposed sewage rate increase that some call a “salt tax.”

Following the guidelines of Proposition 218, Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District officials have been meeting with the public about the proposed rate hike and scheduled a public hearing at 6 p.m. today at Santa Clarita City Hall.

If the rate increase passes, property owners who are hooked up to the district’s sewer system will see the hike on property tax bills phased in over the next six years. After that time, the rate increase would be about $100 per year for the average single-family home, district officials say.

Official protests to the increase are required to include a written statement outlining the property owner’s stance on the issue, the parcel he or she owns and the signature of the owner. Protests can be dropped off during tonight’s public hearing but will not be accepted after that.

As of Thursday, only 31 notices of protest representing 34 parcels had been received, according to the agenda for tonight’s meeting. Nearly 70,000 notices about the rate hike and public hearing were reportedly sent out to property owners.

Notices of protest must total 50 percent of the property owners affected by the rate increase to block the district from moving ahead with the hike.

The Sanitation District’s board of directors, consisting of two Santa Clarita City Council members and a county supervisor, may approve the district’s Service Charge Report at the end of the hearing tonight, or the board may put over a decision until its July 7 meeting.

If the Service Charge Report is adopted, the board still must approve an ordinance to enact the rate increase before the rates are presented to the county Assessor’s office in August, a district official said.

The rate increase, if adopted, would fund a $130 million treatment system to remove chloride — a naturally occurring component in common table salt — from treated wastewater that is discharged into the Santa Clara River.

Downstream farmers say the chloride damages their avocado crops, and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has determined the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District must reduce discharged chloride to 100 milligrams per liter or face steep fines for failing to maintain California water quality standards.



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