(Black Press file photo)

Waterworks customers to be billed entirely by District of Hope for 2020

Letter from comptroller clearly defines changes in billing process for 753 water system

No more new bills will be issued to 753 Waterworks customers by the province.

Customers of 753 Waterworks Ltd. should be receiving a letter from the province’s comptroller this week, outlining the next steps of the District of Hope’s transfer agreement.

The letter informs them that they will not be billed for 753 services beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Who would be billing the affected customers of the failed private water system was a major point of discussion at the most recent District of Hope meeting, where the public and some councillors wanted more clarity on who would be billing residents for the upcoming quarter.

The letter from the comptroller, dated Dec. 13, tells those customers “due to imminent transfer, 753 customer invoices will not be issued by the Utility for the first quarter of 2020.”

However, bills that were due up to Dec. 31 will still be due. Many customers have not paid the bills in the past months or even years, in protest of the system. Currently, clients of the 753 Waterworks system are paying four times the rate the District charges regular water users.

READ MORE: Waterworks plan in final steps, says Hope District

The affected customers will receive their bills for the year from the District of Hope once the transfer of the system to the District is complete, the letter underlines. They will be charged at the same rate as all Hope water users.

The letter was written by Chris McMillan, secretary to the Comptroller Water Rights, and it lists contact numbers for questions.

Questions about the acquisition of the water company by the District should go to the District at 604-869-5671, and billing related questions should go to HLW Chartered Professional Accountants at 604-492-8891.

HLW has told at least one resident that it is not necessary to call in to cancel pre-authorized payments, either.

“Our office is no longer able to process any more payments as the change is taking place Jan. 2020,” the message stated. “If you are able to send a message, somehow, to tell people they don’t have to contact our office to cancel authorization forms, that would be great. All forms are cancelled.”

The District intends to finalize the transfer agreement by Feb. 1 or sooner. The cost the District is preparing to borrow for the upgrades needed in the system is $1.8 million. The cost of borrowing will partly be downloaded to taxpayers, at about $50 per household annually for 25 years.

If the project comes in under budget, the leftover amount borrowed will be put into reserves solely meant for waterwork upgrades.


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