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As most folks know, the City Council this week adopted the largest increase in fees in our city’s history — spiking water and sewer rates by a whopping 35 percent. The average homeowner will see their bill skyrocket from an already unacceptable $78 per month to well over $105 per month.

After months of offering alternatives to rate hikes to city leaders, I appeared before the council to urge a NO vote on the rate hikes. I did, however, express my strong support for the mayor’s creation of the Independent Rate Oversight Committee (IROC.)

The IROC provides city residents with much-needed oversight of water and sewer funds. The IROC would be empowered to conduct audits of the finances and performance of the water and wastewater departments. In addition, the IROC would be empowered to identify and suggest cost saving reforms. Any savings would be placed into a special reserve fund — only to be used for water and sewer projects or to prevent future rate increases.

That’s where you — Joe and Jane Public — come in.

If you are willing, you should consider serving on the IROC. The IROC will convene once a month and will review reports from city staff, hold public hearings, and ask the tough questions. It will require some hard work, but this is a chance for you to serve your community and hold City Hall accountable for all those water and sewer fees you are paying!

The appointment process for the IROC will guarantee that residential ratepayers will receive notices and be allowed to apply for a seat on the IROC. In addition, folks with backgrounds in municipal finance, law, construction management, auditing, engineering and environmental science will be nominated by the City Council and the mayor.

Assuming the appointment process results in a majority of ratepayers serving on the IROC, ratepayers may finally have a credible watchdog looking into the use of their water and sewer fees.

If you are interested in serving on the IROC, call Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office at 619-236-6330 or email ahugg@sandiego.gov. Once the City Council officially creates the IROC the formal appointment process will begin, but the Mayor’s Office plans to accept submissions of interest starting today.

CARL DeMAIO

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