Kimberley City Council is considering amending the water and sewer rates bylaws in order to accommodate for funding of the new Wastewater Treatment Facility.
At a regular Council meeting on Monday, Council gave first, second and third readings to two separate bylaws surrounding water and sewer rates. If the bylaws pass, sewer rates will increase by eight per cent, effective January 1, 2019, until 2023, with no increase to municipal water rates. This will result in $802,000 additional revenue for the City over the five year time period.
Chief Financial Officer Jim Hendricks says that costs for the new Waste Water Treatment Facility will be significant. Staff has suggested that the previously planned increase of two per cent to flat rate water utility fees be eliminated, and that the increase instead be shifted to sewer utility fees to allow for additional revenue to fund eventual costs related to the construction of the new WWTF.
“Once the Waste Water Treatment Facility engineering and design work is complete (anticipated early to mid 2019), better information will be available on which to base future sewer utility rate adjustments in order to ensure sufficient revenue to fund planned operating and capital expenditures,” explained Hendricks. “Utility rates beyond 2019 will be reviewed each year during the annual budget deliberation process and will be set based on the best information available at that time.
“We’ll take that two per cent and shift it to sewer utilities. Until we determine what the actual costs of that facility are going to be, both capital and operating, we’re not going to have a really good handle on what we need, but the cost will be significant and we’ll need as much money as we can get in the sewer utilities.”
Mayor Don McCormick agreed, saying it’s better to build a reserve in anticipation of the costs.
“Although we’re moving forward with the analysis of the new facility, this is going to be, without a doubt, the single biggest infrastructure expenditure that the City has had in a very long time,” said McCormick. “Being prudent at this point, on how we’re collecting reserves, is a good thing to do. If we have an opportunity for adjustments down the road we can do that.”
Bulk water rates will also increase by 10 per cent to $1.56 per 1,000 gallons, effective January 1, 2019.
“Last year council decided to increase bulk water rates by 20 per cent, and if passed, this bylaw will see those rates increase by another 10 per cent,” explained Hendricks. “The previous bylaw resulted in the recovery of only 29 per cent of what it costs the City to deliver the water, and this rate had not been adjusted since 2004. By comparison, since 2004 the water rate for a single family dwelling had increased by 41.8 per cent.”
He adds that the primary customer for bulk metered water is Resorts of the Canadian Rockies who use the water for snowmaking at Kimberley Alpine Resort and for irrigation at Trickle Creek Golf Course. Other users of bulk metered water are Teck Metals Ltd. and on rare occasion Bootleg Gap Golf Course.