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Paso Robles City Council approves a series of infrastructural improvements and plans 

The Paso Robles City Council moved through a series of agenda items at its April 15 meeting for some fine-tuning and grand scheming on the city’s infrastructure.

In just about two hours, the council visited such common topics as sewer rates, recycled water, and road improvements—and even managed to talk tourism, recreation, and worship.

The council lowered sewer rates by 20 percent to account for a drought-related increase in outdoor landscape irrigation to level out the increase in rate payments generated in winter months. A few residents suggested keeping the rates at their present level to limit use or to generate funding for the recycled water project, but the funding structure is required to be based only on total sewer costs.

“So you’re really asking us to destroy an urban legend, that while once the government raises rates they will never go down,” Councilman Fred Strong said before approving the rate adjustment.

Plans for a major recycled water project inched forward with the adoption of the project’s master plan, which has been in the works for more than three years and has outlined a total cost of $46 million. The city hopes to find a partner that will receive some of the water, and in return pay a fair share for the project. Currently, the agricultural industry east and north of the city—where the water will be delivered to use for irrigation and for basin research—is the most likely candidate. The council also approved the preliminary design for the facility.

Last but not least, the council approved the first of a set of road improvements with funds generated by a half-cent sales tax. That tax, approved by voters in 2012 and put into effect in April 2013, has so far generated $4 million, half a million more than projected, said Administrative Services Director Jim Throop. Some of the funds go toward public safety, with the rest to road repairs. The current bid award to Papich Construction puts approximately $1.3 million to repair stretches around Niblick Road and by Airport Road.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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