BEVERLY HILLS—The Beverly Hills City Council approved a measure to raise water rates across the city, and residents in West Hollywood will see a rise in their costs also.

At their December 5 formal meeting, City Council officially raised the cost of water for the city of Beverly Hills. In a 3-2 vote, the council approved an “increase by between $5.50 and $6.50 each year, from January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2022.” By 2022, the water rate will have increased by $25 and $30 per month for a Beverly Hills resident. The increase has been done to maintain water infrastructure and improve local water production infrastructure.

Residents in West Hollywood who utilize water from the city of Beverly Hills, will pay an additional 25 percent surcharge water rate. According to Shana Epstein, Beverly Hills’ Director of Public Works, the surcharge is to boost Beverly Hills’ general fund services and public services that require water utility. These include the fire department, the police department, government positions and roadway services. Beverly Hills residents already pay for these services through regular taxes.

During the city council’s meeting it was announced that they received 95 protest letters, a majority from residents from the city of West Hollywood. West Hollywood councilmember Lauren Meister appeared before the Beverly Hills City Council to debate the matter. She argued against the rate hike, saying “there is no direct documentation to support the 25% surcharge.”

She went on to explain that the increase was done to raise public services that will not help those in West Hollywood and that the surcharge was not fairly allocated to the West Hollywood residents that use less water on average. Meister asked the council to recess the debate for 60 days, but the council declined and voted on the matter anyway.

“We are embarking on a more detail study…and the agreement of the surcharge is apart of that,” said BH Councilmember Robert Wunderlich. Councilmember John Mirisch was not in support of the water rate increase.

“We could as other communities, ask our employees to share in on the rates, but we instead stick it to our residents. Its not fair to spend like drunken sailors…So we are talking about reality. It is unfair to carry it out on the backs of our residents. No way am I going to support this,” said Mirisch during the meeting.

A finding from a consultant from the city of West Hollywood argued finding a specific dollar amount versus a distinct surcharge is a more appropriate outcome. West Hollywood, in addition from getting water from Beverly Hills, also gets water from the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water. Councilmember Wunderlich indicated that the rates in BH are currently competitive with the LADWP without the surcharge.

Written By George Morris and Casey Jacobs