Emo residents to see service rates jump

Emo residents soon will be paying $7 more every two months for their water, sewer, and garbage services after council approved the increases at its regular meeting last Tuesday night at the community centre.
Reeve Ed Carlson had proposed the rate hikes during a public meeting beforehand, which attracted nearly a dozen residents to discuss the issue.
“By 2012 we have to be operating at cost recovery,” Reeve Carlson explained. “We’re attempting to get there, but don’t want to have to take a massive jump.”
Emo residents had been paying $37.50 a month for water, but the increase will bring that cost to $39 a month starting Sept. 1.
Sewer rates that totalled $17.50 a month soon will be raised to $19 while garbage rates will be increased from $12.50 a month to $13 a month.
While residents didn’t protest the hikes, they wondered how many more they will see in subsequent years.
Reeve Carlson admitted he wasn’t sure, and that it was possible the rates could be raised again up until 2012—unless some recovery can be established through grants.
The township intends to have a consultant review its situation in order to determine what price would retain cost recovery.
Several residents noted their frustration with seeing their cost in services rise so much over the past 20 years, as well as with having a flat rate for water.
“What’s the point in me trying to conserve my water when my neighbour is out watering the sidewalk?” one resident asked. “And we all pay the same amount.”
Emo council agreed it is a problem and noted with the dry weather this season, the water treatment plant has had a difficult time keeping up with the demand.
It was suggested the community install water meters—that way, a household would pay only for the amount of water it uses (which, in turn, likely would make people more conscience of how much water they are using).
“Everyone should be conserving,” stressed Reeve Carlson. “And it would be great to have meters, but it would cost about $150,000 for 500 meters.”
Still, he added it would be something council could look at down the road.
Reeve Carlson also proposed raising the fee on the water dispenser located at the municipal garage. Where the current cost was $2.20 for 220 gallons of water, he suggested the cost be $5 for the same amount of water.
He explained it’s important that the tap gets used in order to maintain the quality of water.
“If we’re not moving the water, we have to let it run on the ground and that’s a waste,” he remarked. “But we need to make enough the cover the cost and maybe even a little extra.”
Residents also were frustrated with people from outside the community who resell this water to fill swimming pools, for example.
“That is an issue,” agreed Reeve Carlson. “But I’m not sure how we can police that.”
Another resident proposed the water dispenser be switched to a token system.
“You could get the tokens at the municipal office and if you are from the township, you get them at a certain rate and if you’re not, you pay more,” he suggested.
Reeve Carlson indicated there could be some problems with a system like that, but it would be looked into.
Regarding garbage and recycling, It was noted Emo residents have been recycling more and, in fact, those costs have decreased. But the increased rate for garbage services still was approved.
In addition, an increase in cemetery fee rates were proposed at last Tuesday’s public meeting.
Residents and non-residents had been subject to a $100 charge for a plot, which Reeve Carlson noted wasn’t quite enough considering maintenance and upkeep.
He suggested non-residents pay $250 for a plot and residents continue to pay $100.
Road concerns
At the council meeting following the public one, Emo council heard a report from Public Works superintendent Peter McQuaker, who voiced concerns about the condition of Reid Road north of Highway 11.
He noted the road needs serious work done due to the traffic that had to be re-routed along it after a fuel truck had overturned on the highway just east of the community the previous week.
“There was unbearable traffic and the road took a toll,” McQuaker stressed. “There wasn’t a lot I could do about it at the time.
“But it took it rather well considering the traffic it did get.”
He added the east end of Reid Road is in the worst condition.
Council instructed McQuaker go ahead and fix the road, with funds to be sought through the OPP to offset the cost.
Also at last Tuesday’s meeting, Emo council:
•approved a bylaw to restrict the non-essential use of water after 8 p.m.;
•determined the advance polls for the municipal election will take place Nov. 4 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and
•tabled a request from Jeannette Cawston of the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, asking that council pursue a nursery school in Emo, until more information can be provided.
Emo council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the municipal office.