20 Jun OWASA Board Approves Fiscal Year 2022 Budget and Rates
The Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors approved the budget and rate adjustment for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) at a meeting on June 10, 2021. The approved budget and rates include a 5% rate increase to support investments necessary to continue providing high-quality water and sewer service and protecting the environment and public health.
A 5% increase in rates will raise the average residential bill for 4,000 gallons of water and sewer service by $3.79 to $79.46. Our cost control efforts in Fiscal Year 2021 have helped to mitigate the need for a larger rate increase for FY22. Adjusted rates will go into effect on October 1, 2021.
Last year, the Board adopted a Fiscal Year 2021 budget that did not include a rate increase, despite the need for a 5% increase at the time, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further delaying these needed community infrastructure investments is not sustainable.
OWASA’s investments in the community’s water and wastewater infrastructure are not supported by taxes nor federal grants: only fees paid by customers for services. Nearly 50% of the fees customers pay for services goes toward funding critical capital improvement projects to upgrade pipes, pumps, and other important infrastructure that will serve our community for many years to come. The other 50% supports the operation of the system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Since March 2020, OWASA has temporarily suspended service disconnection for non-payment. Using the Orange County State of Emergency as guidance, OWASA has deferred resuming standard bill collection practices for residential customers until August 1, 2021, at the earliest. We are committed to providing at least 30 days advance notice before resuming standard bill collection practices, as well offering payment plans of up to 18 months to customers who are past due once we resume standard collection practices. In addition, we will help to connect customers to financial assistance for bill payment, including the Care to Share program. If you are able, please consider donating to Care to Share. You can donate on your monthly OWASA bill or directly to the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service.