Financial plan sees increase in utility rates

Water rates go up by two per cent; sewer by five to help fund replacement of waste water treatment plant

Financial plan sees increase in utility rates

A five year financial plan for 2018 to 2022 was recently presented to Kimberley City Council by Chief Financial Officer, Jim Hendricks.

Included in the plan are several different focus areas including Norton Avenue reconstruction, the Downtown Project, hot water system improvements at the Conference Centre, a Columbarium at the Kimberley Cemetery, Traffic Calming measures, an Asbestos Management Program and land exchange with the Kimberley Golf Club.

At a regular City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14 Council voted on amending and/or including projects and bylaws outlined in the plan. All of the proposed project changes and amendments to the bylaws were carried through.

The first five projects include the following:

– Moving phase two of the Norton Avenue project to the 2018 budget, where as before it was set to be completed in 2019. The project includes water, sewer and storm construction as well as paving the entirety of Norton Avenue from Burdette Street to Gerry Sorensen Way.

– Moving improvements to the hot water system at the Conference Centre into the 2018 budget, if funds allow. This project requires $24,094 to add heat exchanger plates to the existing system as well as additional pipes and valves. According to management at the Conference Centre, for seven years staff have been working around an inadequate supply of hot water for washing dishes.

– Traffic Calming measures are supported in the budget as presented. The Operations Department is proposing implementing electronic speed reader boards and other signage and removable speed bumps at a cost of $20,000. City staff is investigating the possibility of partial grant funding from ICBC.

– Including an Asbestos Management Plan in the budget as presented. Work safe BC has issued the City four different orders in relation to asbestos management in municipal facilities. This work will require an external contractor. The budget for the multiple assessments includes $25,000 per year for three years (2018 to 2020).

– Including the proposed land exchange between the City and Kimberley Golf Club as presented. This project involves survey and bylaw work at a budget of $30,000 from the 2018 General Operating Capital Reserve. The overall land enhance would involve 8.8 acres of KGC land (including previously closed road to river/treatment plant) and 3.83 acres of City lands for net gain of 4.97 acres to KGC.

Three separate bylaws are to be amended as well, including a two per cent increase to water rates, a five per cent increase to sewer rates and a 10 per cent decrease in solid waste rates.

“With respect to the bylaw that we’re amending, it sets the water rates for 2018,” said Hendricks. “We’ll revisit it again for each year of the five year financial plan as we go forward. The two per cent is really just in keeping with the municipal price index that we’ve been sticking to for property tax increases.”

Hendricks says the two per cent increase will go to funding increases to operating costs as well as increases to reserve contributions to fund future capital infrastructure upgrades.

With regards to the five per cent increase for sewer rates, Hendricks says it will help pay for the construction of the new wastewater treatment facility.

“As noted, it’s five per cent increase for sewer as opposed to two per cent for water. The rationale behind that is we have the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility budgeted in 2020. We’re anticipating 83 per cent grant funding for that [but] we’ll have to foot the bill for the remaining 17 per cent, which is $5.4 million and change. Along with that comes a dead obligation of about $365,000 per year. We’re bringing the sewer user fees up for the five year plan so we’ve got enough to fund that debt repayment. After 2022 it will drop back down to the two per cent, is what we anticipate,” Hendricks said.

Finally, the solid waste rates will decrease by ten per cent in order to offset the increase in sewer and water, says Hendricks.

“There were some changes made to the garbage collection regime last year that resulted in some wage savings and some fuel savings,” Hendricks said. “We’re able to reduce the fees and still contribute to a reserve that will allow us to replace the [garbage] truck in ten years. We’re expecting delivery of the new truck early in 2018, which again is going to change the regime a bit. We’re going to be using different cans, so we’ll be revisiting the garbage rates again in 2018 and possibly will be able to reduce them further at that point.”