Transition of Sewer Service Charges on the County Property Tax Bill
At the regular meeting on June 13, 2023, at 7:00 p.m., the City Council approved the introduction of an ordinance amending Title 10 of Chapter 10.08 of the San Bruno Municipal Code to provide for the collection of sewer service charges on the San Mateo County tax Roll.
On the June 27, 2023 at the regular meeting the Council approved the adoption of the ordinance. Should the Council take final action in Spring 2024, the sewer service charges will be placed on the County tax bill starting July 1, 2024.
- Why is the City considering the change in billing procedures to collect the sewer service charges through the County tax roll?
The City currently bills customers via a combined bi-monthly utility bill that includes water and sewer service charges and solid waste charges. This results in a single large bill that customers pay once every two months. The typical single family residential monthly sewer charges are $94.12. Billing through the County property tax roll is anticipated to provide many benefits to both ratepayers and the sewer enterprise fund, including:
- As the collector of general taxes, the County of San Mateo guarantees payment for any charges collected on the tax roll. San Mateo County is on the Teeter Plan under which the City would typically receive 100% of sewer billings regardless of property tax payment delinquencies. This revenue would be paid from the County to the City in installments throughout the fiscal year. The County will handle any necessary assessment of penalties in the event of nonpayment. Therefore, the City will receive a more stable and guaranteed revenue source for its sewer enterprise. This guarantee of payment allows staff to project sewer enterprise fund revenue with more accuracy and plan for future expenditures required to maintain the City’s sewer collection system.
- It would also remove the administrative burden of billing and collections from the City. The billing change will result in a reduction in processing costs. This will help rebalance the workload of the City’s already burdened Finance Department by freeing up staff time from responding to customer billing inquiries and processing payments, as well as bill collection activities. Reducing staff time required for this activity is an example of improved and more efficient service delivery, allowing staff to focus on higher-priority accounts payable and purchasing activities instead of processing billing. Finance staff will still be involved in the sewer service charges process to prepare annual rate adjustments, execute an agreement with the County for collection of special charges, and to oversee the preparation and provision of the annual required Property Tax Written Report to the County.
- What is the timing for this potential change in who bills for the sewer service charges?
In June 2023, the City Council will review and potentially take action on an ordinance that would amend the City Municipal Code to allow the City Council to take future action in 2024 to collect sewer service charges for all parcels in San Bruno on the County property tax bills. The one-year transition period provides time for owners to plan accordingly to transition from bimonthly to biannual payments.
In Spring 2024, the City could initiate the formal process under State law to make this change in who bills for these charges, effective July 1, 2024.
- Are there other agencies that currently bill sewer service charges through the County tax roll?
Most agencies in San Mateo County collect sewer service charges on the tax roll. The only agencies that do not are Burlingame, Brisbane, and Foster City. The City of Millbrae is currently in the process of transitioning sewer service charges to the San Mateo County property tax roll starting July 1, 2023.
- Which sewer customers will have sewer service charges collected on the County tax roll?
If approved by the City Council in Spring 2024, all San Bruno sewer service customers would be subject to this change billing for services effective July 1, 2024.
- What is the timeline for this process?
- Who would be responsible for paying the sewer service charges on the tax roll?
Charges collected through the tax roll are the responsibility of the parcel owner, who pays the entire property tax bill. Owners may adjust their mortgage impound account set-asides to include these charges.
- What if I am a tenant and the current customer on record?
If this change is approved by the City Council, tenants of parcels that will have charges collected through the tax roll will not see a sewer service charge on their City of San Bruno utility bill after the transition takes place in July 1, 2024.
- How will I pay my bill if my sewer service charge is collected through the tax roll?
Sewer service charges collected through the tax roll will appear on the parcel owner’s tax bill the same way they do for property taxes. Charges are paid in the same manner and at the same time as property taxes. This means property owners will be responsible for paying charges by the due dates listed on their property tax bill.
- If my sewer charges are collected on the tax roll, when will my payment be due?
Sewer service charges collected through the tax roll will be subject to any deadlines or penalties set by the San Mateo County Tax Collector’s Office.
- Will this change increase my current sewer service rates
No. Current rates will not increase as a result of collecting charges through the tax roll. The City will continue to follow the same public notification process for adopting rates increases.
- Will the charges be tax deductible?
Sewer services charges are not tax deductible.
- Will I still be receiving a bill from the City for my water service?
Yes, the City will continue to bill customers for water services.
- Will my property tax increase?
Sewer service charges collected through the tax roll will not impact the amount of property taxes, but will be added as a separate line item to the total tax bill. As such, the parcel owner will see an increase in the overall tax bill received, as it includes other fixed charges that billed in addition to property taxes.
- Will low-income customers still be eligible for a 25% discount?
Yes, City of San Bruno customers may still apply for the discounted sewer rates program established by the City Council that provides a 25% discount in rates for households with certain income limitations.
- What happens if you miss the payment deadlines?
For additional information regarding the County’s billing process please visit:
For questions or comments, please contact the City Manager’s Office representative for this effort:
Ashley Crociani, Management Analyst, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 616-7056.