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Speak up or pay up in Los Osos 

Los Osos residents have until Dec. 14 to raise a fuss over proposed rate charges for a new sewer.

As of press time, 78 property owners had protested rates and charges put on the table by the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department. In order to override the proposed rates, there need to be 2,632 formal protests (50 percent plus one of the 5,262 parcels).

In an often-used tactic to apply rates, SLO County supervisors on Oct. 26 agreed to send letters to property owners in the Los Osos prohibition zone. Those letters detailed the proposed rate structure and how the protest process works. Will Clemens, a department administrator who oversees the finance division of Public Works, said the county typically doesn’t receive a majority protest.

If a simple majority of property owners fails to protest the rates, a single-family home will pay a minimum $48.85 monthly charge plus additional costs depending on how much water is used.

The rates will pay for operations of the system once in place. Residents will pay additional costs for the project’s capital cost, which is hovering around $182 million. The county is not yet going after owners of undeveloped properties, meaning developed property owners have to front the cost until the county develops rates and charges for the rest, probably shortly before the sewer goes online.

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