gilroy city hall rosanna street
Gilroy City Hall. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
music in the park san jose

The Gilroy City Council passed a water and wastewater rate increase Oct. 16 that will be more gradual over five years than was originally proposed.

On a 5-0 vote, the council agreed to raise water rates by 6% every year through 2028, beginning on Jan. 1. Wastewater rates will increase by 4% annually during the same time period.

Councilmembers Tom Cline and Zach Hilton were absent.

The city, which owns and operates its water and wastewater utilities, serves more than 15,000 customers, according to Finance Director Harjot Sangha.

But with the number of customers growing, and operational costs climbing as well as needed infrastructure improvements, the city must increase the revenue it receives from those utilities for the first time since 2019, he said.

The city hired a consultant to conduct a rate study, the first such study since 2015, according to Sangha.

The study suggests annual increases from 2024 to 2028. For a single-family home that uses 8,300 gallons of water monthly, the bill would rise annually from its current $55.68 a month to $77.12 in 2028, according to the report.

Sewer rates for single-family residences would increase from $46.64 a month to $59.74 over the five-year period, while multifamily residences would rise from $33.13 to $40.23.

In late August, the city mailed out notices of the proposed rate increases to customers along with information on how to protest them.

The city received 31 letters, according to City Clerk Thai Pham, well below the 7,501 needed to prohibit the council from approving the rates.

The rate adjustment drew some members of the public to the Oct. 16 meeting, who said those living on a fixed income would be hurt the most by such a decision, with one speaker calling the rates “outrageously high.”

In response to a question about offering seniors a break on rates, City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said those who qualify for PG&E’s Care Program can receive discounts.

Under the original proposal, water rates would have jumped 8% the first two years, followed by 6% and 4% the final two years.

However, the council voted 3-2 in favor of the proposal. But with two councilmembers absent, it fell short of the four yes votes needed for approval, City Attorney Andy Faber said.

At issue was the increase of 8%, some councilmembers noted.

“It’s such a gut punch to get that 8% now when we are forecasted to be heading toward a recession,” Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz said. “People are having a serious hardship right now.”

Forbis said it was a “serious issue” if the council didn’t approve the rate increases, especially in light of rising operating costs and a recently approved budget that directs millions of dollars toward utility infrastructure.

He suggested the council consider a 6% increase annually over the next five years. That proposal passed unanimously.

Also during the meeting, the council got a look at modifications slated for the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting memorial at Christmas Hill Park.

The current memorial has been worn down by the elements since it was established in 2019.

A 30-by-30-inch monument reading “Gilroy Garlic Festival Memorial Garden, July 28, 2019, In memory and honor of those whose lives were forever changed,” is among the additions, as well as four donated oak trees that surround the memorial.

The ropes and posts will be removed, while the palm tree will remain.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


  1. Does this have anything to do with Amazon’s data center moving in to Gilroy, I assumed they were digging up the roads to have a large water source for cooling at the data center

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  2. Last month they approve a stupid ice rink deal and this month they’re jacking everyone water/sewer 30% over five years to pay for it! If I wanted SJ style politics I would have stayed there!

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