Water, sewer rates going up

Duane Hicks

Water and sewer bills will be a little higher here this year.
Town council approved an across-the-board 3.8 percent increase to 2019 water and sewer rates at its regular meeting Monday night.
Coun. Michael Behan, who is vice-chair of the Operations and Facilities executive committee, said the committee reviewed five rate scenarios over the course of three meetings to find a balance between short-term affordability for customers and the long-term need to have funds to replace infrastructure in the town’s aging water and sewer system.
“That’s the struggle–trying to find that balance,” he conceded.
After reviewing multiple scenarios, the committee decided on one which would apply a 3.8 percent increase across the board–meaning each group shares the burden as opposed to one paying more than the other.
This scenario will result in an additional $138,804.20 in revenue to be collected compared to the 2018 forecasted revenue, which equals the town’s target revenue of $5.4 million given the forecasted 2019 consumption.
In terms of affordability, the 3.8 percent increase might sound large but is fair, Coun. Behan noted.
Residential water and sewer customers here will pay an average of $992 this year–just over $36 more per year than last year. This breaks down to $3 more a month or nine cents more per day, he pointed out.
As well, the cost of water and sewer to Fort Frances customers remains lower than other large municipalities in the region,.
Kenora, where residents will pay an average of $1,611 for water and sewer this year, increased its 2019 rates by 5.5 percent. In Dryden, where residents will pay an average of $1,500.70 this year, the rates have gone up five percent.
Thunder Bay residents will pay an average of $1,186.30 this year after seeing a rate hike of three percent.
Coun. Behan said according to the town’s asset management plan, the long-term infrastructure deficit for water and sewer alone totals $14,150,957, with an additional requirement of $9,628,096 of capital work required to the sanitary sewer network alone in 2034.
“That’s just 15 years from now,” he stressed.
“So again, you always have to keep an eye to maintaining enough surplus so that we can pay for [this work] down the road.”
Aside from flat rate residential customers, non-residential customers’ volumetric rate also will be increased by 3.8 percent–from $5.48 per cubic metre in 2018 to $5.69 per cubic metre in 2019.
The volumetric rate, meanwhile, will be set at $3.23 per cubic metre for the industrial/commercial class and $3.71 per cubic metre for institutional customers.
In both those cases, it represents at 3.8 percent jump from 2018.
As well, there will be a 3.8 percent increase to the ICI minimum monthly rate from $1,296.86 per year in 2018 to $1,346.12 per year in 2019–an increase of $49.26 per year or $4.11 per month.
And there will be a 3.8 percent increase to fire hydrants and sprinklers.