The City Council today unanimously approved the beginning of a 45-day public input period to give property owners the right to protest proposed increases to water and sewer rates.

Interested parties will now be sent an updated version of this form passed out to council members today. (Council members requested a few changes to the message before it is sent, such as translations in at least Spanish and Tagalog and an easy-to-read summary.)

Under California law, the proposed increases will be killed if more than 50 percent of interested owners formally protest. The City Council will decide on the matter at 2 p.m. on Feb. 26.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has proposed annual increase of 6.5 percent for the next four years to fund hundreds of millions of dollars of maintenance for the city’s water and wastewater systems. The systems have struck settlements with state and federal regulators over the city’s failure to comply with health and environmental laws.

Sanders and City Attorney Mike Aguirre say the increases are necessary to fund vital improvements to the decaying systems.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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