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Packed city council meeting

Extra chairs were brought in and there was standing room only, with some people spilling out side and back doors, at the Jan. 2 Calistoga City Council meeting where water and sewer rate hikes were the main topic.

The city council will receive an update from staff members on water and wastewater increases during its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, will include an update from city staff on some of the ideas and suggestions that were proposed during previous public hearings and forums.

The city is proposing to raise rates on water and sewer charges, some of it prompted by a water/wastewater study that concluded the city cannot operate its utilities properly at the current rates. Calistoga will also need to pass on charges it will incur from one of the city’s water sources, the North Bay Aqueduct, which is raising its rates.

Critics who oppose the rate hikes are telling city leaders to find the money elsewhere, arguing that low-income seniors and families are already struggling to make ends meet and won’t be able to absorb the additional financial burden.

Without the additional revenue the city cannot refinance its debt in the enterprise funds, which would ultimately save taxpayers money, said Dylan Feik, city manager.

Feik said that when the city is able to refinance its debt, savings can be passed on to ratepayers via refunds, but that can only happen if the city can demonstrate that its utility funds are self-sustaining.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor