Hope eyes utility rate increases

Council has given the first three readings to a bylaw which would increase water and sewer rates by 15 per cent

Water and sewer rates are set to rise in Hope next year by 15 per cent.

Council gave the first three readings to a bylaw on Monday night which would see unmetered residential and commercial rates increase by $34.32, from $228.84 to $263.16 in 2013. The annual increase for metered commercial would be $34.36 for usage up to 1,101 cubic metres quarterly.

“In developing the 2012-2016 financial plan, it was proposed that the sewer and water utility rates had to be increased by 15 per cent to be self-funding,” said director of finance Parissa Aujla.

She noted that the district’s water and sewer fees are among the lowest in the area and don’t match current market rates. Deferring increases will result in delays to replace aging infrastructure and fund ongoing operational requirements, Aujla added.

Unmetered residential and commercial sewer rates would increase by $22.68 next year under the bylaw, from $150.84 to $173.52. The annual increase for metered commercial would be $23.12 for usage up to 1,101 cubic metres quarterly. Excess sewer consumption would be subject to a three per cent increase.

Solid waste collection and disposal fees have also remained unchanged since 2011. Aujla said the primary reason for maintaining the rate was that a study was to be undertaken in 2012 to review landfill site operations, post-closure options and user fees. The study is currently ongoing and a fee structure has not yet been developed. However, the bylaw proposes a three per cent fee hike to offset the increased costs associated with landfill operations. This would equate to an annual increase of $7 per residence. For commercial users, the solid waste increase would be about $18 to $216 annually.

John Fortolockzy, chief administrative officer, noted that the district is being prudent by raising the solid waste user fees by three per cent, which keeps the cost below the rate of inflation over the last two years.

Annual invoices for residential water and sewer fees will be issued by late January.