SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The San Jose Water Company has asked state regulators for permission to raise rates 44 percent over the next three years. But the proposal is not going over well with some residents.

Revenue from the rate hike would pay for infrastructure and conservation projects, as well as employee pensions, said water company spokesman John Tang.

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“The cost of providing reliable and high quality service has gone up, and it’s gone up substantially,” he said.

KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:

Tang said the average bill for San Jose Water Company customers, around $65 per month, would eventually rise to $78 a month, or roughly one percent of the median household income in the city.

More than 100 people packed a public meeting at City Hall Thursday to criticize the proposal.

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Apartment building owner David Eisbach accused the privately owned public utility of behaving like a monopoly.

“Where in the public entity does an administrator or a CEO earn $625,000 a year where pensions are going wild?” he said, noting that residents bills have continued to rise despite the success of water conservation programs.

“Today, I use 25 percent less water and I pay 28 percent more dollars for it,” he said.

If the California Public Utilities Commission approves the proposed rate increase, San Jose water bills would go up 22 percent in January.

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