By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
Citing the fact the water utility has achieved cost recovery this year, proposed water rate increases for the next two years have been reduced.
At its Nov. 9 meeting, Claresholm town council heard a report from Chief Administrative Officer Marian Carlson and reviewed a written report from administration.
Carlson said that in March of 2019, after a significant review of the utility rates and expenses for providing utility services, council passed a bylaw with a three-year graduated increase to the water and sewer utility rates.
The goal was to achieve some form of full cost recovery of the town’s utilities rather than relying on tax revenue, grants, and borrowing to fund the town’s utility systems.
They were also looking to provide a more equitable rate system and promote water conservation.
The written report stated this was to be primarily achieved through removing any basic consumption inclusion with the basic water rate. In the past a residence that used 50 cubic metres, that is 50,000 litres, of water in a two-month period would pay the same amount as someone who used one cubic metre, that is 1,000 litres.
Therefore in essence, the report continued, the low user was subsidizing the high user.
Council is still committed to these goals, and therefore is continuing with many of the planned changes that were set out in 2019.
However, consumption didn’t decrease as much as anticipated with increased rates, along with some other factors, so the town has achieved full cost recovery on its water utility sooner than expected.
Therefore rate increases will be decreased for the 2021, and ongoing, years.
The planned reduction from 2020 to 2021 of included or basic consumption from five cubic meters per month to nil will continue as planned.
However, the 26 per cent increase to the consumption rate, from $1.65 per cubic metre to $2.08 per cubic metre, has been cancelled and the basic and consumption rates will remain unchanged from 2020 to 2021 for residential services
Non-residential service rates will similarly be reduced. As there was already not included consumption in the basic rates for non-residential, since Jan 1, 2020, there is no change there.
There was, however, a 12.5 per cent increase in the basic rates and a seven per cent to a 20 per cent increase in consumption rates, based on consumption level.
These have been reduced to just a two per cent inflationary increase across the board.
The year 2022 also has a two per cent increase across the board, in both residential and non-residential, which was planned for.
However, there is now a two per cent increase on the much lower 2021 numbers.
The sewer utility isn’t in as good a position, so the planned increased will still proceed as planned for, with the exception of the flat rate fees for non-residential services not increasing from 2020 to 2021. This was an error, so an inflationary two per cent has been added to these rates as well.
Council then gave first reading to the bylaw to cancel the rate increases.
The final two readings of the bylaw will be given at one or two future meetings of council.
By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer