Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Water, sewer rates to rise

Residents’ water and sewer bills will be going up a little bit this year.
Town council approved new rates at its regular meeting Monday night, including a 1.76 percent increase for residential customers.

This will mean residents’ water and sewer bills will go up $1.25 per month.
Overall, this means residents will go from paying $845.53 per year in 2013 to $860.53 a year in 2014—a difference of $15.
The rate scenario approved represents a compromise of the differing opinions of mayor and council first expressed at last Tuesday’s budget meeting.
Mayor Roy Avis said the 1.76 percent increase for residential customers “is a pretty fair increase,” adding many other municipalities in the region are going with higher hikes.
“We know that residential has always been paying a little bit more than commercial because of the fact that they don’t have water meters,” he noted.
“But we’ve tried to balance it out to the best interests of the businesses in the community, residents in the community, and also the industrial areas in the community,” the mayor added.
The new rates will include:
•a 1.76 percent rate increase for flat rate residential customers;
•a 10.2 percent increase to the non-residential customers’ volumetric rate (this means it would rise from $4.84 per cubic metre in 2013 to $5.33 per cubic metre in 2014);
•a 9.76 percent increase to industrial/commercial volumetric rate (this means the rate will rise from $2.46 per cubic metre to $2.70 per cubic metre);
•a 14.9 percent increase to the institutional volumetric rate (this equals a hike from $2.70 per cubic metre to $3.10 per cubic metre);
•an 8.96 percent increase to the ICI minimum monthly rate (this equals an increase of $7.93 per month, or $95.16 per year); and
•a 1.5 percent increase to fire hydrants and sprinklers.
Differing opinions on rates reflected the fact most councillors did not want to overburden ratepayers with a big increase.
Others wanted higher rates to generate more revenue to be socked away for maintenance of the town’s aging water and sewer infrastructure.
Altogether, the new rate scenario will collect an additional $106,293.33 in revenue compared to 2013.
The total target revenue forecast for 2014 is $4.7 million.
“There were some councillors that wanted to raise more money as a target figure for capital; there were some that wanted to raise less,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted Monday.
“So it was a compromise and I think pretty much everyone is happy with it,” he added.
Other municipalities in the region have gone with much higher rate increases.
The City of Kenora, for instance, is in the third year of a five-year plan which has seen its water and sewer rates increase by 10 percent each and every year.
This has been done to bolster the city’s reserve funds to help address Kenora’s water and sewer infrastructure, which is old and in need of fixing like Fort Frances’.

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