Motecuzoma Sanchez is a North Stockton resident and a member of the Water Advisory Board. Since January, Sanchez has noticed a nasty change the Stockton Municipal Utilities — water that smelled like "sewer."
On Saturday, he and other members of the public met with city leaders to share their concerns about water in the city of Stockton.
"We're not Flint, Michigan. We want to tell people that," Bob Granberg, acting Director of City of Stockton Municipal Utilities said.
Chloromine, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia , is used to disinfect the city's tap water. While some say it's causing rashes and irritation, the city says it has been proven safe in cities like San Francisco and Tracy.
Now, Sanchez said he's in for what he calls another nasty change — a 26 percent increase in water rates next year. Then a 5.5 percent increase, a 3 percent increase, and 3 percent increase in the following years.
The city council will have to vote on the proposal provided by the Municipal Utilities Department [MUD], but Mayor Anthony Silva has already made up his mind.
"Stockton has been taxed enough, and so I am not going to be personally be supporting any tax increase," Silva said.
The city management says there is a perfect reason for that. Because of the drought, and Gov. Jerry Brown's rules to help the state cut down water usage, Granberg says revenues are decreasing, and it's not uncommon.
"Utilities throughout the state are experiencing the same issue. People are conserving water, so we are not selling as much water," Granberg said.
Sanchez believes the drought is just as excuse to dramatically increase rates.
"Knowing the past fiscal history of Stockton, and the way the city has been managed, I'm not very trustful that they will be the best stewards with our money," Sanchez said. "What I fear is that they will get used to the additional funds coming in, and when the the drought is over, then those funds will continue to go."
MUD says they have looked for ways to offset costs to taxpayers. But with no excess funds, and a large debt coverage ratio, they say this is the only way.
"We deferred capital improvements in the to future years, and we have held some vacant positions frozen and not filing those," Granberg said.
Stockton city council will vote on the issue next Tuesday.