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Fresno Council Says 'No' to Utility Hikes, For Now



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Any rate hikes for Fresno utility customers will wait.
The Fresno City Council rejected starting a process Thursday that would raise the bill for water, sewer and trash by about $22 through 2023 to a base rate of $118.
Council president Esmeralda Soria led the way during the debate, unhappy that City Hall did not hold community meetings in advance of the rate hike proposal. She mentioned that such meetings happened in 2015 when the council last passed a hike.
Soria said that the council would not be living up to its promise to Fresnans about keeping costs down if it adopted Mayor Lee Brand’s proposal.
Councilmen Steve Brandau and Garry Bredefeld said that Fresnans have too high a tax burden, especially with the pending Measure P (sales tax vote to benefit parks on November’s ballot), and if the statewide gas tax repeal fails.
If the council had approved the measure, the city would have sent notices to its utility customers by Oct. 22. That would start a 45-day comment period. The mailers would also contain rate hike protest cards. If a majority of customers return the cards, the hike would stop.
Brand made his pitch for the rate hike, saying that it would help keep costs low.
Paul Caprioglio encouraged his colleagues to be the “courageous council” and let the debate happen.

Council Vote

Ultimately, the council rejected, on a 4-3 vote, the process to start what is known as the Prop. 218 vote.
Voting for the proposal: Oliver Baines, Caprioglio, Clint Olivier.
Voting no: Brandau, Bredefeld, Luis Chavez, Soria.
Soria indicated that this will be a decision the council, with at least two new members after November’s election, will have to decide.

Other Council Briefs

— Voted 5-0 to extend “free” rides to State Center students, employees, and faculty. The school district reimburses the city.
— Tabled a discussion on regulating e-scooters. Representatives from Bird and Lime appeared before the council. Many council members expressed concern about fines being too stiff ($1,000) and questioned enforcement. Olivier delivered the line of the day, “What are we going to have, scooter police?”
— Voted 6-0 to approve the sale of the H Street parking lot to the Fresno Grizzlies, who play across the street. However, the council will return for further debate on how to spend the $1.9 million from the sale.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email