A Guide to Understanding Rio Vista’s Upcoming Utility Rate Studies: Key Terminology

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A Guide to Understanding Rio Vista's Upcoming Utility Rate Studies: Key Terminology

As Rio Vista prepares for extensive utility rate studies, an understanding of the relevant terminology is crucial for meaningful community engagement. This article serves as a glossary of key terms to familiarize residents with the language of these upcoming discussions.

Glossary Divided by Themes
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    Financial Basics

    Fiscal Year (FY)

    A 12-month period for budgeting and financial reporting, usually designated by the two years it straddles, e.g., FY 2023/24 Rio Vista’s Fiscal Year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.


    Total income from utility services, derived primarily from rates and other charges.


    Total costs for maintaining and operating utility services, including personnel, maintenance, and infrastructure costs. In the case of the water utility, expenses also includes the cost of acquiring the water.

    Financial Viability

    The long-term sustainability of a project or service, balanced against both revenue and expenditures.

    Rate Structures and Costs

    Rate Increase

    An adjustment to existing rates to fulfill projected revenue requirements.

    Tiered Rate Structure

    A pricing model where costs per unit (e.g., water) rise with consumption. In a tiered rate structure, the volumetric charge is tied to a lower and upper limit of water consumption. After a customer surpasses the upper limit of the first tier, the customer will pay the next tier's rate until reaching the maximum tier.

    Fixed Charge

    Fixed charges (also known as standby charges) are the price the customer pays as a base charge to help cover costs for maintaining existing infrastructure and repaying loans and bonds used to build that infrastructure. Fixed charges for water utilities typically increase by meter size. Since a large portion of utility costs are typically related to meeting capacity requirements, individual capacity demands are important in establishing equitable rates for customers.

    Variable Charge

    Variable charges are the price the customer pays per volume of water used, which reflect the costs of providing water, such as the costs for chemical treatment to provide safe water and the costs of energy to move and deliver water.

    Strategic Planning


    Estimating future revenue and expense trends based on current and historical data.

    Demand Forecast

    Predictions of future consumer demand for utility services.

    CIP (Capital Improvement Plan)

    A long-term strategy outlining future capital projects and their costs.

    Investments and Funds

    Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF)

    A collective investment program offering higher returns than individual portfolios.

    Reserve Funds

    Savings set aside for unexpected expenses or revenue shortfalls.

    Rate Stabilization Fund

    A fund to minimize sudden rate spikes for users.

    Legal and Compliance

    Regulatory Compliance

    Adhering to safety standards, environmental protection, and public health regulations set by oversight bodies.

    Public Hearing

    A formal meeting for residents to voice opinions on proposed rate changes.


    Fair cost distribution among customer classes such as residential, commercial, and industrial.

    Additional Financial Elements

    Debt Service

    Costs for repaying bond debt or loans, often consisting of principal and interest.

    Inflation Rate

    The rate at which general prices rise, affecting purchasing power. Different prices increase at different rates.


    Financial assistance from external bodies to offset costs.

    Better understanding Rio Vista rate terminology is vital for meaningful engagement as CivicMic continues to guide discussions on the city's utility services. Your input is invaluable in shaping a transparent, accountable, and sustainable future for Rio Vista. To stay informed on utility rate studies and other city initiatives, please visit riovistarates.com and sign up for updates.

    We look forward to your active participation in shaping the future of our community.

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