UNION CITY -- In a week featuring major Union Sanitary District decisions, one was painfully familiar to ratepayers, while another will start a new era.

The sewer agency raised customer rates for the 11th consecutive year and hired a replacement for retiring Richard Currie, the district's general manager since 2003.

The directors boosted the sewer service charge by 5.7 percent, bringing annual customer bills for single-family homes to $357.02, an increase of nearly $20. Ratepayers in apartments and other multi-unit housing this year will pay $315.25, a yearly hike of about $17.

The Union City-based agency has raised rates each year since 2004. Another round of 5.7-percent rate hikes have been approved through 2016.

Taking over the district's top post in mid-August will be Paul Eldredge, Brentwood's city manager since 2011.

Directors selected Eldredge from a group of five finalists. His range of experience, such as negotiating labor contracts and being a professional engineer with knowledge of wastewater issues, made him stand out, said Anjali Lathi, the district's board president.

"It was the whole package, the combination of all his experience, that made him rise to the top," Lathi said.

Eldredge's annual compensation, including health benefits and perks, will be about $270,000, said agency leaders.

Currie will retire Sept. 30, giving the new general manager at least six weeks to work alongside him.


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"Richard did a great job in leading us through very challenging labor negotiations the last time around," Lathi said. "He leaves big shoes to fill but we're confident that (Eldredge) will be able to fill those shoes."

Formed in 1918, the Union Sanitary District collects and treats wastewater and manages the sewer system for more than 333,000 residents in Fremont, Newark and Union City. With an annual budget of nearly $50 million, the agency has 135 employees serving homes and businesses throughout 60 square miles in southern Alameda County.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.