Today’s Mad River Current: Manila rate hikes, McK brouhaha, Arcata hullabaloo

PRETTY PICTURE OF THE DAY. By Kim Durham

Manila may raise water/sewer rates

MANILA – Residents in Manila may end up paying about $7.21 more on their combined monthly sewer and water bills if the town board approves a rate increase tonight.

The Manila Community Services District meets tonight, July 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Manila Community Center, 1611 Peninsula Dr., in Manila and will hold a public hearing on the matter.

The combined sewer and water bills now average about $68.08 a month for residents, although the exact amounts depends on water usage.

Under the proposed rate increase, average monthly bills would go up to $75.29, an increase of $7.21. In fiscal year 2019, the average bill would be $78.90; in 2020, $82.74; in 2021, $86.88; and in 2022, $91.27.

That means that by 2022, residents will be paying, on average, $23.19 more per month than they are paying now.

The rate increase is the result of several factors. First, the district hasn’t raised rates in a decade, so the rates never kept up with inflation. The district has also seen changes in charges from its wholesale water supplier, the Humboldt bay Municipal Water District, and it also lost a major customer when the Sierra Pacific Mill closed down last year.

At tonight’s meeting, the board will hold a protest hearing. If more than 50 percent of the district’s customers protest the increase, they can kill it.

According to a report from District Manager Chris Drop, 190 protests would need to be received at the close of tonight’s hearing on the matter. As of Monday, the district had received 27 protest votes.

Also at the meeting, the board will consider a policy allowing the district to “buy back” unused vacation time from employees and will consider creating an ad hoc audit committee. The board will also hear various reports.

Ball Field Brouhaha

About two months ago, on the lively McKinleyville Community Watch Facebook page, there was a heated debate about McKinleyville Little League and its relationship with the McKinleyville Community Services District with regards to the league's use of the Hiller Sports Complex.

There were some unhappy league volunteers, who complained about the fees the district charges for use of the fields. Years ago, McKinleyville Little League used the fields for free in exchange for helping with the mowing. Now, the league pays for field use. As for the mowing, the league can do so, but it needs permission from the district.

Some little league volunteers were so unhappy with the arrangement that they started talking about leaving the Hiller Sports Complex and building their own field on private land.

A meeting tonight, July 20 might help resolve the conflict, or at least give all parties involved a better understanding of everyone's concerns. The McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. at the MCSD Conference Room at 1656 Sutter Rd. McKinleyville. The agenda item is simply "McKinleyville Little League," and a league representative is expected to be in attendance.

At the very least, this meeting may give everyone an opportunity to learn about the history of the sports complex, how it got built and who pitched in.

This committee, by the way, advises the MCSD Board of Directors on all things park and rec.  If you want a certain recreation program, or have an idea for a new park or park improvement, the committee is a good starting point.

Let's talk about dogs at Hiller Park

Also at tonight's meeting, the McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee will talk about dogs at the town's unofficial dog park – Hiller Park.

According to the MCSD, the committee will "discuss [a] strategy and timeline for campaign to create awareness of impacts that failure to follow rules of the dog park have on the environment and the park."

Ball Park Hullabaloo, Arcata version

Arcata has its own mini ballpark controversy. Last night, the Arcata City Council discussed the Yes We Cann Parade and Hullabaloo slated for Saturday, Aug. 12.

According to the website of Humboldt Green, a cannabis company sponsoring the event, the parade tentatively begins at 2 p.m. at the HSU parking lot at 14th and Union streets and ends at the Arcata Ball Park, where there will be live music, family games, a food court, craft vendors and a medical marijuana market.

Humboldt Green would rent the ballpark from the city. Permits have yet to be issued for the event. See more in next week's paper.

 

Weather

In short, same old, same old.

Historic Landmarks Committee

The City of Arcata Historic Landmarks Committee meets today at 4 p.m. in the Arcata Council Chambers at 736 F St., Arcata. Chair Don Tuttle, Vice Chair Bob Felter and committee members Jill Macdonald and Bill Rich will discuss the draft of a Plaza registration application and will receive an update on proposed interpretive signs. The committee will also hear various reports.

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