Saturday, September 20, 2014

Council tackling water, sewer hike

Town council contemplated water and sewer rates at a budget meeting yesterday, with most feeling residential rates should go up as little as possible this year.
Council was told by Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown that it’s anticipated the mill will use up to 100,000 cubic metres less water in 2014 than last year—meaning a loss of about $246,000 in revenue for the town.

That said, the majority of council felt that given the local economic climate, the fact people are moving away, and the fact that many people’s property taxes are going up due to reassessment, the public cannot afford a significant increase to water and sewer rates.
Council was presented with several scenarios indicating varying increases for different rates; some indicating revenue loss and some showing revenues increases.
While the different scenarios showed possible residential rate increases of between one and 5.68 percent, the majority of council felt residential water and sewer rates only should go up one-1.5 percent this year.
Mayor Roy Avis suggested a scenario where residential customers’ rates would go up one percent.
This means their bills would go up from a flat rate of $845.53 per year in 2013 to $854.04 in 2014—an increase of $8.51.
The flat rate for ICI
customers would go up nine percent—from $1,062.36 per year in 2013 to $1,158.36 per year in 2014 (an increase of $96).
The volumetric rate for industrial/commercial customers would go up 9.76 percent—from $2.46 per cubic metre in 2013 to $2.70 per cubic metre in 2014.
Meanwhile, the volumetric rate for institutional customers will be $3.10 per cubic metre for water and sewer—a 14.9 percent increase over $2.70 per cubic metre in 2013.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft supported a similar scenario, but felt the residential increase should be three percent, which would mean an increase of $25.91 a year for water and sewer service.
He reasoned the town needs to keep focused on generating more revenue to pay to repair its aging infrastructure.
He added that right now, residents pay about $2.50 to have water and sewer delivered to their house, which he called “a beautiful deal” considering residents can use as much water as they want.
Likewise, Coun. Wiedenhoeft felt council has to quit looking at the cost per cubic metre for other classes, as sometimes “it’s irrelevant.”
“Some of the ICI small users are paying $1,000 per cubic metre because that’s all they use is a cubic metre,” he noted.
“They’re getting water and sewer delivered to their business.
“How much would it cost them if they had to bring in water by the jug to service their customers?” Coun. Wiedenhoeft wondered.
“How much would it cost them to go home three of four times a day to go to the bathroom?
“It’s a service they can’t beat at that price,” he stressed.
Council asked Brown to come up with more rate scenarios, which then will be reviewed by the Operations and Facilities executive committee, which, in turn, will make a recommendation to council in future.

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