Sewer, water rate changes to be discussed by council

Town council will discuss what direction it will take with increasing sewer and water rates this evening, following up a special committee of the whole meeting last Tuesday.
At that meeting, council, administration, and management discussed the input they’ve received from local businesses regarding the proposed fee hikes, and how to achieve parity between commercial and residential rates, among other things.
After a lengthy discussion, Mayor Dan Onichuk compiled all the suggestions talked about and recommended the following be calculated into a new sewer and water fee schedule:
•the removal of the surcharge from metered commercial users that otherwise would go towards paying for water meters for residential users in the future;
•a commitment to a rate schedule that would equalize commercial and residential rates—on a per cubic metre basis—over the next 10 years, as opposed to five;
•establishing a base commercial rate equal to the flat rate for residential, with commercial customers having to pay for water on a per cubic metre basis for water used in excess of an allotted amount (equal to the monthly average number of cubic metres of water used by residential customers).
This would apply to residential customers, too, once water meters are phased in.
•a flat administrative fee for billing, not a fee equal to a percentage of the bill (this would be to the benefit of commercial customers who use great amounts of water, and thus, already have higher sewer and water bills); and
•a minimum monthly charge of $10 each for sewer and water service for customers who have disconnected their service for a period of time (e.g., after having gone south for the winter).
This would be a steady source of revenue towards infrastructure reserves.
Council is expected to discuss what direction it wants to take with these recommendations this evening, but will not be voting on a bylaw to increase sewer and water rates at this time.
Tonight’s agenda also includes a presentation by Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce president Gary Rogozinski regarding the impact of higher sewer and water rates on the local business sector.
The council meeting is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. It will be preceded by the committee of the whole, which will meet at 5:30 p.m. but be in-camera until 5:55 p.m.
Other business at tonight’s meeting will include:
•a bylaw to repeal Bylaw No. 17/05 (to authorize the construction of certain new replacement sidewalks as local improvements);
•a bylaw to authorize the execution of a supplemental agreement for airport capital funding with the Ministry of Transportation;
•a bylaw to authorize the 2005 and 2006 salary ranges for management and non-union employees;
•a break-open ticket licence application from La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary at the Bonnie Blue from July 16, 2005-Dec. 16, 2005;
•a request from the Arthritis Society to proclaim September, 2005 as “Arthritis Awareness Month” in the Town of Fort Frances; and
•an application for Zoning Bylaw Amendment-File No. 8.98-Y (this is to rezone property at 306 Victoria Ave. from C2-General Commercial to R3-Residential Type Three).

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