Kimberley water fees will remain the same, sewer fees will rise

Kimberley City Council gave first, second and third readings to the 2019 – 2023 Financial Plan at their regular meeting this week.

It will be adopted in May. As reported in the Bulletin, taxpayers will see a 2.22 per cent increase in property taxes, within the Municipal Rate of Inflation.

Other costs to taxpayers are utility fees, which have been rising in recent years, as the City attempts to have the two funds become sustainable.

“The Local Government Act and the Community Charter dictate the spending of tax money,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “Water and sewer need to be funded by separate stand alone funds.”

The good news is that water fees will not increase in the coming year for most property owners.

Council did adopt a bylaw last December which increase bulk water rates by 10 per cent, from $1.42 per 1,000 gallons to $1.565 per 1,000 gallons, but all other water rates remain unchanged. That means it stays at $119.28 per quarter ($39.76 monthly).

“The Water Fund is in great shape,” McCormick said. “The Water Fund is self-funding and there are no planned increases.”

There are no water fee increases planned for the five years covered under the current financial plan.

Not so for the Sewer Fund. Sewer fees will be going up eight per cent in the coming year, up to $87.84 per quarter ($29.29 monthly). That is an increase of $2.17 per month over 2018.

McCormick says the increase is primarily because of the looming replacement of the waste water treatment plant, which is an estimated cost of $38,595,000. The city’s portion of those cost are anticipated to be $7,905,000.

“We have to increase rates in the Sewer Fund to build reserves,” McCormick said. “Our portion of the cost of the plant will be funded through debt and we have to make those debt payments. If not for that the fund would be closer to self-sustaining.”

Construction of the new plant is tentatively scheduled for 2023.

Sewer fees are anticipated to rise eight per cent per year through to 2023, which means by 2023 property owners will be paying $478 per year for sewer fees.

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