After being defeated at the council table five times previously, a resolution regarding how the town bills sewer and water installation rates finally was passed by the majority of town council at its regular meeting Monday evening.
The town will continue to charge time and materials for the installation of sewer and water services as this is “the most fair and equitable method to do so,” Operations and Families manager Travis Rob said.
However, Rob added if council still thinks the costs are too high and would like to subsidize these installations at some level, and property owners would pay some set amount less than the actual costs, they could include sewer and water installation in the town's Community Improvement Plan (CIP).
The CIP is a grant program for residential property owners, where they can get up to $2,500 to put toward a number of costs relating to works over $25,000 that require a building permit.
“If that's the avenue that council wants to go with this, that's how we should be doing it—through our Community Improvement Plan,” Rob said.
“Therefore, we'll meet all the requirements under the Municipal Act and the Planning Act to do so,” he explained.
"Everybody has the same opportunities regardless of where they are or how much there installation cost is, or what side of the road the watermain or sewermain is.
“It's clear," Rob stressed. "We're covering all our bases legally and you can proceed in that fashion.”
The majority of council agreed to continue to charge time and materials for the installation of sewer and water services, and also agreed to refer the matter to the Planning and Development executive committee for consideration of inclusion into the Community Improvement Plan.
Only Couns. Ken Perry and Doug Kitowski voted against the resolution.
In response to past comments from council about the town charging too much, Rob clarified how the town bills for sewer and water installation in his most recent report received by council.
The town bills on a time and materials formula plus a 10 percent administration charge.
At the end of the job, the time taken and materials used to complete the work is reviewed, he noted.
“If time was taken to complete works not directly related to the installation, or materials were used to complete repairs outside of the installation works, those costs are taken out of the bill to be sure that the cost borne by the property owner is as fair as possible,” Rob wrote.
“The town does not charge a mark-up on any of the materials, we bill out at true cost [materials plus shipping] nor do we charge overtime,” he added.
“Further, the rates we charge are set out in the town's user fee bylaw, which is reviewed annually.”
In other business, council:
- referred a letter from a resident, re: a review of frozen waterline billing at 833 Armit Ave., to the Operations and Facilities executive committee for its recommendation;
- agreed to proclaim May as “Community Living Month” in the Town of Fort Frances;
- agreed to proclaim May 7-13 as “Mental Health Week” in the Town of Fort Frances;
- referred a request for a Grade 5 class at St. Francis School, to write letters about pollution created by the use of plastic water bottles and possible solutions, to the Operations and Facilities executive committee for its recommendation;
- passed a bylaw to authorize the execution of an agreement with Bay City Contractors for road reconstruction and watermain/sewer replacement;
- passed a bylaw to enter into a renewal lease agreement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car Canada Ltd. at the Fort Frances Airport;
- passed a bylaw to repeal the current agreement with Fort Frances Tribal Health Authority for fire protection services; and
- passed bylaws to authorize capping parameters for property classes, and to establish a percentage by which tax decreases are limited to properties in the commercial, industrial, and multi-residential property classes.