Fresno water rate hike takes effect

FRESNO, California

Public works director Patrick Wiemiller explained, "Initially there's no like impact today depending on when their billing cycle beings and ends a proportionate share of the new rate will show up in their next monthly bill."

The Fresno City Council approved the phased in rate hike to raise more than $400 million to expand the city's water system. It passed on a five to two vote.

Council member Clint Olivier was one of those who opposed the measure, because he felt it would hurt low income folks. He is just hoping they can adjust.

"Had this been phased in all at once I think we would hear more of a response from people who can't afford it," said Olivier. "But because its' being phased in, I think people will be able to get used to the new water rates."

There was almost no public opposition to the rate hikes, which will go up by about $8.00 a month this year, $8.00 a month next year, and $3.00 a month during years three and four.

But not everyone thinks the rate hike is a done deal. Community activist Doug Vagim is launching a petition drive to get the rate hike put on the election ballot. But the city attorney says water rates are not subject to voter approval and expects a court to throw out the petition drive.

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