Council looking at sewer, water rate hike

A recommendation for a two percent hike in sewer and water rates for all classes was to come before town council during its regular meeting at the Civic Centre on Monday night.
“The reason for it is the projected works for sewer and water this year would have required taking a certain amount out of reserves. And [council] didn’t want to deplete the reserves any further,” Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said Monday morning.
“So the number they’re looking at constitutes a two percent rate increase, which is probably appropriate with the rising costs in any given year,” he added.
“It’s a nominal, normal type increase you’d pass on with any utility,” he stressed.
McCaig noted the whole issue of life cycle costing, which was discussed at length last year, almost certainly would come back up later this year in anticipation of impending government regulations mandating all municipalities have such a financial plan in place.
“But for the purposes of getting going with the [town] budget, and implementing a timely rate increase so we don’t have to have something retroactive, we’re making the recommendation to proceed with that [two percent increase] now,” McCaig said.
If Monday night’s recommendation is passed, the town will make public notice of the hike and then hold a public meeting prior to voting on a bylaw to implement any such increase.
Council passed a 10-percent hike in sewer and water rates across the board halfway through 2005.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, council was to get a zoning bylaw amendment application from Loblaw Properties West Inc. to rezone property in the west end of town from M2 (heavy industrial) and C3 (highway commercial) to C2 (general commercial) to allow for a retail grocery store and gas bar to be built there.
This property is located on King’s Highway, just east of Wal-Mart.
Other business at Monday night’s council meeting included:
•a presentation on business marketing from Bill Boulton of the Northwest Midwest Alliance;
•a presentation from Donna Anderson regarding an Provincial Offences Act activity update;
•a request from the Kenora-Rainy River District Easter Seal Society to proclaim March, 2006 as “Easter Seals Month” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•a request from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario to proclaim February, 2006 as “Heart Month” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•a request from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board regarding property tax exemption; and
•a letter from John Myers of McDonald’s Restaurant regarding water placement at 831 King’s Highway.
Tonight’s meeting gets underway at 6:10 p.m. The committee of the whole will meet first starting at 5:30.