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Few protest water meters
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Plans to begin metering water usage in the fall of 2011 drew few complaints during Monday's protest hearing held by the Ceres City Council.

Nine protests were lodged from 11,307 parcels affected by switching from a flat to metered rate. Because less than a majority protested in the Proposition 218 hearing, metering will go on as scheduled.

Ron Peterson was unclear about the charges and thought his rate would go up from the $28.19 per month he now pays. City Engineer Glenn Gebhardt assured him that his rate will drop if he consumes less than the average monthly usage of 16,000 gallons.

Rates will be based on pipe size coming into the house. Most people will pay a base rate of $19.67 per month plus 69 cents per 1,000 gallons of water.

Some like Eldon Brewster, who has a large lot size, believes his rate will increase because of all the landscaping that needs watering in summer.

Before the new rates kick in, residents will be able to see how what the metered charge would be. The plan is to send out mock bills beginning with January bills. However, the city has encountered a problem of being short of meters for an estimated 400 to 600 households. As of Friday, 9,100 meters had been installed. Because of an accounting snafus, more meters are needed at a cost of $138,324 and $54,000 for installation.

The council refused to approve the new meters until it takes up the matter on Jan. 10. It could delay the process of starting metering, said Gebhardt.