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Posted on: June 20, 2019

City of Lodi Press Release

News Release

Press Release - City of Lodi

June 20, 2019

Over the past several months, the City of Lodi has received a fair amount of press attention regarding the reprimand by the Public Service Commission for initiating construction of the new water booster station on the west side of the City prior to receiving written authorization from the agency. The Commission ultimately determined the booster station project was necessary to provide reliable water service for the City. The City’s decision to move ahead with the booster station project without construction authorization from the PSC was motivated by the desire to partner with the Lodi School District in their effort to construct a new primary school. City administration had made a commitment to deliver the public infrastructure needed to support the new primary school facility.

The passage of school referendum question number two on the November 2016 ballot kicked off a remarkable collaborative effort between the City and the Lodi School District. In addition to the construction of a new, state of the art primary school, the cooperative endeavor also included over 1/2 mile of new urban street, a regional storm water detention facility and sewer, water and electric utility infrastructure that will support growth of the City and the Lodi School District for decades to come. The City worked closely with Ehlers, our municipal advisor and our engineer, MSA Professional Services, to accomplish these projects. The City’s cooperative spirit resulted in project efficiencies that allowed the Lodi School District to save enough of the referendum budget to invest in additional school improvements. Those improvements include a greenhouse and fab-lab at the high school and STEAM labs at the elementary and middle schools.

At the open meeting on May 23, 2019, the PSC voted in favor of allowing the cost of the booster station project to be included in the City’s water utility rates. The $1.8 million booster station project cost was one component of the application to the PSC to increase water utility rates and was filed in conjunction with the application for construction authorization. Other components of the water rate increase included funding for ongoing water main replacement and increases in operational costs. The water rates authorized by the PSC in the official rate order will result in an increase of about $9 per month for the average residential customer. About $3 of the monthly rate adjustment is to account for increases in operational costs since the last rate order was implemented in 2009. $6 of the monthly rate adjustment can be attributed to the water booster station project. Approximately 30-percent of the overall water utility rate is for fire protection. According to regional water rate statistics maintained by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Lodi’s former water rates were about $3 per month lower than the median for all public water utilities within a 50-mile radius of the City of Lodi. Coincidentally, the PSC approved rate increase will be $9 per month higher than median rates within the 50-mile radius. Lodi’s new water rates will be approximately $48 per month lower than the maximum rate in the area.

City staff and administration takes the issue of utility rates very seriously. Therefore, the City is planning to host an open forum in the near future for those citizens wanting more information or desiring to comment publically regarding this matter.

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