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Water rates need to go up: report

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A new report received by town council recommends water and wastewater rates be increased five percent each year over the next six years.

At its regular meeting Monday night, council accepted financial plans for the water and wastewater systems as prepared by BMA Management Consultants.

The plan indicates that water and wastewater rates must go up five percent each year over the next six years “to achieve financial sustainability.”

The town must submit the plan to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by Jan. 29.

Coun. Ken Perry clarified that although the town has to send a plan off to the province, it doesn’t necessarily mean council will be raising rates by five percent.

Council still has to set those rates.

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown noted a plan has to be sent in but it doesn’t have to be followed to a ‘T,’ adding it is more of a guideline for council when setting rates for any given year.

In 2011, the town increased rates between zero and eight percent in order to realize $157,000 in additional revenue (this averages out to an increase of 3.7 percent across the various classes).

Council will be setting the rates for 2012 early in the new year in order for them to be passed prior to the first billing period (the first week of March).

Looking ahead, starting in 2012, all industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) water customers will be charged an additional monthly water meter maintenance and replacement fee, which will be based on the size of the meter and average installation cost, as well as a 15-year replacement cycle.

Many ICI customers got new water meters this fall, and those who did not had Energy Axis water 2.0 modules installed on their water meters to enable automatic meter reading.

The town is on track to automatically read all ICI meters for the first billing period in 2012.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:

•appointed Doug Kitowski to the Committee of Adjustment for a term ending Nov. 30, 2014;

•awarded the tender for a new backhoe loader to Nortrax Equipment of Thunder Bay at a net cost of $73,210.21 for the supply and delivery of a 2012 John Deere Model 310 SJ;

•agreed to a recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee to approve the 2011/12 Safe Communities Rainy River District funding request of $0.50 per capita, for a total of $4,051.50;

•agreed to a recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee to approve a purchase card expense for CAO Mark McCaig in the amount of $485.84 (this was a travel expense to attend a parliamentary procedure workshop in Thunder Bay on Oct. 14);

•authorized a payment of a 2012 business membership fee to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in the amount of $60;

•agreed to a recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee to donate the proceeds from the 2011 OPP auction, in the amount of $2,179.06, to the Community Policing Committee for youth safety initiatives in the Town of Fort Frances;

•agreed to a recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee to authorize the preparation of an authorizing bylaw for temporary borrowing in the amount of $4 million to meet 2012 expenditures (as is normal procedure before the budget is complete, this is done to authorize temporary borrowing as required until revenues are collected);

•received an invitation to join the Emergency Services Steering Committee (ESSC), and directed that no further action be taken;

•approved a purchase card expense for Mayor Roy Avis in the amount of $288.12 (this is for a cellphone, charger, and holder); and

•allowed expenditures relating to the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, in the amount of $3,907.28, to be paid from the library reserve account.

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