MORRISBURG – Some members of council are pressing to have a very political discussion about wastewater rates.
At the June 20 South Dundas water and sewer budget meeting South Dundas councillor Bill Ewing said that he wanted to see the equalization of Iroquois and Morrisburg wastewater rates.
Under the current rate structure, Morrisburg and Iroquois water users pay the same water rates, because they are all on the same water system, but that is not the case for wastewater.
Those connected to the Iroquois sewer system pay a sewer rate that is equal to the water rate, while in Morrisburg those connected to the Morrisburg sewer system pay a sewer rate that is 75 per cent of the water rate.
Ewing has been vocal about the need for this rate to be the same across both systems.
The reason that the Iroquois rate is higher is that through this user pay system, fewer users (709 Iroquois users vs. 1,297 Morrisburg users) are contributing towards the cost of operating the Iroquois wastewater treatment plant than the Morrisburg plant.
Ewing wants to see the rate the same for both towns.
“It’s not something staff would recommend at this time,” said acting deputy treasurer Shawn Mason. “That would be a political decision,” said Mason adding that move would be a major philosophy shift.
“I agree with councillor Ewing, the practice should be done away with,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Jim Locke.
“That would mean that the Iroquois rates will be subsidized by the Morrisburg users,” said South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde. “There would definitely need to be some avenue for public input before it comes to fruition.”
South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan said he is definitely not comfortable with one group of users subsidizing the other.
Council tabled a resolution directing staff to investigate the possibility of amalgamating the two groups of users to enable a shift to a single wastewater rate.
Williamsburg sewer customers were not part of this discussion.
Delegarde and Mellan were clearly against the resolution while Locke and Ewing were clearly for it.
South Dundas councillor Marc St. Pierre voted in favour of the resolution, explaining that he wants to see it investigated and to hear public input on the matter.
“Right now, I’m for it, but that could change once I see the numbers,” he said.