Perris to vote on Measures G and H, the possible sale of two water systems to Liberty Utilities

By on October 11, 2017

Perris residents and customers of Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) will have an opportunity in November to vote on the proposed sale of the city’s two water service systems. EMWD is the wholesale water provider in the region. Although EMWD is the local water wholesaler, the city’s two systems are the city’s Downtown Perris Water System and the North Perris Water System.

The city of Perris owns the two municipal water systems. The Downtown Water System provides service to approximately 2,366 connections in the downtown area. The North Perris Water System provides services to approximately 1,357 connections in the Villages of Avalon.

The Perris City Council voted on July 27 to place Measures G and H on the ballot for the Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 Special Municipal Election. Measure G asks the city’s voters to decide whether to authorize the sale of the city’s sewer system. Prior to the July 27 decision by the City Council members, city staff had previously researched and provided information on annual operating deficits by the city’s sewer system. The reports by the staff indicate that if Measure G does not pass, the city will retain the sewer system and the annual deficits are likely to continue.

Similarly, Measure H seeks authorization by the city’s voters for the proposed sale of the city of Perris’ water systems to Liberty Utilities. As per the California Public Utilities Code, the city of Perris conducted a noticed public hearing and evaluated the proposals from prospective buyers. The City Council determined that Liberty is the best qualified public utility “to continue providing equal or better service to the customers of the systems” according to the Impartial Analysis for Measure H being made available to the city of Perris voters.

Liberty Utilities provides water service to 12 incorporated cities in California and to unincorporated areas in both San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. The California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) regulates Liberty and water rates charged by Liberty must be approved by the CPUC. The proposed purchase agreement will limit annual water rate increases for 10 years. Annual increases are limited to annual increases in Eastern Municipal Water District rates or 3.3 percent, whichever is higher, with some exceptions for water supply changes or catastrophic events.

In order for Measure G to pass it will require a two-thirds “yes” vote by voters. However, Measure H requires only a majority vote to authorize the city to move forward with an agreement to sell the water systems to Liberty. The city will receive approximately $11,500,000 for the sale. If Measure H passes, these funds are earmarked to retire debt incurred by the water systems; any remaining funds will be used for park amenities including athletic fields.