Private water company seeks steep increase in Selma water rates

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Selma is one of 25 cities served by the California Water Service Company. A private utility. (KFSN)

Selma is one of 25 cities served by the California Water Service Company. A private utility. Their latest proposal to raise rates by nearly 30% over three years, with most of that, nearly 25% coming in 2017, is rubbing the city administration the wrong way. City Manager Ken Grey says it follows three years of steady increases.

Grey explained, "It's a grave disappointment to the city of Selma to see this kind of an increase, it draws into question the operational aspects of Cal Water providing services to the city of Selma and certainly the city council is going to have to give consideration to whether or not they continue this relationship with California Water Services."

Threatening to flush Cal Water out of Selma is nothing new. Former Selma Mayor Dennis Lujan told Action News, "We tried three times to take over the water company."

Lujan says he's sorry the city council did not back his previous efforts to buy the utility for the city. He explained, "We missed our opportunity to take it over, if we had taken it over we wouldn't be paying any dividends to stockholders."

Lujan believes the for profit motive is pushing prices up. While the company says the average user will see a $20 a month increase over three years, Selma Resident Tony Dominguez expects to pay more. His current water bill is $145 for the past month. He says many of his neighbors pay twice as much or more. His concern is not for himself but fears another increase will hurt those who can least afford it.

Dominguez said, "It's going to be difficult for them and I can see that being a problem."

We were not able to reach anybody with California Water Services at their offices in Selma and Visalia on Wednesday. The rate hike request will be heard by the state public utilities commission.

California Water Services is seeking a total of nearly $150 million in rate hikes from its 25 service areas in California over three years.

The state Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings and accept public comments on the proposal.



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california waterdroughtwaterfresno countySelma
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