Charges on Property Tax Bill
MWSD charges appearing on your property tax bill
MWSD collects Sewer Service Charges, Water System Reliability Charge, and a charge for repayment of the local 2003 voter-approved General Obligation Bond which funded the purchase of and upgrades to our local water system.
To reduce administrative costs for both the District and the County, San Mateo County collects both the Sewer Service Charge and Water System Reliability Charge as a single line item on your bill.
Ensuring the future of our infrastructure:
Thank you to the community for understanding the need to invest in our critical infrastructure (our pipes, pumps, tanks and treatment facilities).
As a local special district, Montara Water and Sanitary District relies on the bills our customers pay for the revenue to run our operations, as well as the repair and replacement of aging infrastructure. Though we receive a very small amount of ad valorum property taxes (1%), have maximized cell tower leases and any available grants and low interest financing, your bill payments are truly the foundation of our financing. [see detailed Finance Fact Sheet below]
Though we have invested wisely and managed our money well over the years, the time has come to increase our rates so we may stay ahead of the ever increasing need to replace what has served us so well. In 2019-20, the water system had to borrow $500K from the sewer system to address regulatory upgrades required to continue operating our water system.
During the last 15 years, we have spent $14 million dollars to maintain the water system. The money spent came from your bill payments, as well as the original general obligation bond the community authorized in 2003. Those bond funds are now spent, but the system continues to age. Imagine a 6o-year-old car working 24 hours a day here in our coastal environment…
Each year, urgent/emergency work have consumed capital funding – this is a sign of the state of our system. Emergency repairs cost significantly more than planned replacement.
After more than 2 years of continuous discussion of financial, infrastructure, and rate studies, on June 4, 2020, the MWSD Board authorized both the Water System Reliability Charge and three years of 9% sewer rate increases to begin on July 1, 2020.
Our need for infrastructure investment is almost $2M per year – and the authorized Water System Reliability Charge will secure $1M towards those infrastructure needs. Additional funding will be needed in the future. And though we are in a better position with sewer rates – due to recent rate increases – without further increases, our sewer revenue remained inadequate to fully fund infrastructure needs.
To be clear, these rate decisions are less about our ability to pay bills – and more about our ability to fund and/or secure financing to address aging infrastructure. Without adequate income, you can’t secure financing – whether you are a homeowner or a water and sanitary district.
We have ensured that any new development built here pays its share of historic and needed infrastructure investment – through connection fees and paying directly for added infrastructure.
Some residents believe consolidation of our District with other coastal agencies is a ‘solution’ to our funding and infrastructure issues. We welcome discussion on these issues – but please know consolidation will not eliminate the need for increased rates for infrastructure replacement.
We are happy to answer questions and review the basis for our budget, financing, capital needs, and rate decisions. All our Board meetings are open to the public and available on our YouTube channel accessible at http://mwsd.montara.org/board-agendas/meeting-schedule.