At their regular meeting on November 23, 2020 Council gave first, second and third readings to a bylaw that will increase bulk water rates in Kimberley by 20 per cent next year.
The primary customers of bulk metered water are RCR (snow making), Trickle Creek (irrigation) and Teck. On rare occasions when their pumps are down, the city also supplies bulk water to Bootleg Gap Golf Course.
Those rates were set at $1.18 per 1,000 gallons in 2004 and remained at that rate until 2017. At the same time the water rate for a single family home increased by 41.8 per cent.
Bulk water rates were at $1.72 per 1,000 gallons in 2020 as the city tries to catch the rate up.
At the 2017 rate of $1.18, CFO Jim Hendricks reported to Council that the rate was only 29 per cent of what it costs the city to provide the water.
The discussion at the budget meeting last week was whether to raise the rate by 10 per cent next year to $1.89 or 20 per cent to $2.06.
The goal, Hendricks said was to get to a point where bulk water users were paying their full share as soon as possible.
Mayor Don McCormick said that if the rates were going to go up by 20 per cent, the users would need ample warning n order to adjust their budgets, as that rate increase would continue until 2025.
There was also some discussion on finding alternate sources of bulk water as using treated water to make snow, for example, is not the best choice environmentally, Count. Nigel Kitto pointed out. Perhaps the big increase would encourage them to explore other options, he said.
In previous years, council has opted to raise the rates by 10 per cent but this year the appetite was clearly there for a 20 per cent rise.
Count. Kent Goodwin said that the users have been told for years that increase were doing and it only totals $11,000, not a huge amount for enterprises of their size.
McCormick said no matter their size, a 20 per cent increase was a big amount. “If every RCR supplier went up 20 per cent, that’s a bit hit,” he said.
But Goodwin countered that they didn’t have an increase for years.
“The taxpayers of Kimberley have waited long enough to get them to where they’re paying the same as residential,” said Coun. Sandra Roberts.
McCormick said it wasn’t the users fault that the city neglected to raise the rates for so many years.
“I don’t believe they expect more than ten per cent,” he said.
However, council decided to raise the rates 20 per cent. McCormick suggested that there be ample communication with the users to let them know ahead of time.