This public hearing has started. In the audience, I count 17 people, including city staff.
Updates from the hearing will be spotty. Signal inside council chambers is weak.
The presentation tonight is by Brian Crane, public works director. Proposed garbage rates would still keep charges below the average when compared among 10 agencies.
On sewer rates, Crane says Redding is higher than that average but he factors the city's proximity to Sacramento River. The stakes and standards are higher for Redding in making sure water returning to the river is clean.
The proposed water rate makes up the bulk of the increases being presented. The rate hike is prompted by recent rulings that invalidate a tiered system similar to what the city has had in place the last three years as a way of promoting conservation.
Crane estimates 15 percent of the rate increase is replace the tier system.
The ballots will begin to be counted Friday morning. Results of the ballot counting will be presented at the City Council's meeting on Dec. 20.
Greg Washburn questions why the pumphouse project is being cited as a reason for rates going up when the city has been collecting money for that project since the last rate increase.
Washburn also protests the city's method for sending out the ballots.
Richard Mullen complains city staff is held to different than customers. He says he had his state representative check why city staff allowed paint in the sewer. He says he was told the city had a variance. And yet he has been told by staff that he should not pour paint down the drain because it destroys treatment filters, and rather he should take it to be recycled.
Meeting gets rowdy after man in audience yells at the council that he wants to hear what the speaker has to say. She had four questions for staff and council.
Next speaker is concerned that her vote will be canceled. As the public, we feel we're getting screwed.
Next speaker is concerned that rates go up each year and this is being presented after raises of 4% to 9% for some staff. I hope the council hears very clear that enough is enough, she says.
I agree with this lady. People are getting tired. This measure that got voted down wasn't because they didn't want more public safety but because they can't pay more taxes, Kay Wilson says.
Richard Cohen says he and his wife are in the property rental business. The rate increases are making it difficult in setting rental prices. He says it's ridiculous that protest ballots that are not turned in get counted as yes votes. If we had done that for the presidential election, Hillary Clinton would be president, he says.
Public comments have ended. City Manager Kurt Starman, who wrote down questions asked by the public, is addressing each.
City went above and beyond law requirements by creating a protest ballot that customers could return and sometimes sending a copy to a property more than once.
Crane addressing accusations that paint was poured into sewer, says painters working in Shastina Ranch washed water-based paint off brushes into the sewer. Water-based paints are acceptable, not acrylics.
Adam McElvain asks Crane to explain how the protest ballot process works. The idea is to assure audience the city is following the law in the rate proposals.
Kristen Schreder says she too wanted to ask about that and emphasizes the city is following rules set in place by California voters. She says she is supportive of the rate increases.
Council closes public hearing and gives City Clerk authority to begin the count, which will begin Friday morning. If the tabulation continues into Saturday, a door at City Hall will be kept open so people can continue to observe the count.