Big changes are coming to local water and sewer bills.
Affected by the pending increases will be anyone connected to South Dundas municipal water or sewer.
In 2009, when metered billing came into effect, the council of the day ordered that a complete review of the fee structure be completed after five years.
Staff have been working on the review and presented their findings to South Dundas council at a March 11 meeting.
Since the implementation of consumption-based billing, water consumption has decreased significantly.
“The numbers have dropped significantly, and we don’t think they’ve bottomed out yet,” South Dundas chief administrative officer Steve McDonald told council.
Basically, the water conservation efforts of Iroquois and Morrisburg residents and businesses served by the municipal water and sewer infrastructure, mean that the municipality doesn’t have $80,000-$90,000 worth of revenue that they thought they would to offset the costs of operating and maintaining the municipal infrastructure.
“We need a more stable revenue base and the only way to get that is with a fixed rate increase,” said McDonald.
According to staff, a rate increase of about 20 percent is needed.
Staff have suggested hiking the fixed portion of the bill and leaving the consumption rate the same.
The mayor disagreed with that thinking.
“I think both rates should go up somewhat,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds.
His reasoning; by leaving the consumption charge the same and increasing only the fixed rate, the burden is being shifted away from the big water users. “The big users won’t be paying any more than the small users, even though they use more of the (water/sewer) plant,” he said.
“But if we up the consumption rates, they will probably use less water,” said South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan.
“There is certainly more stability in fixed charge increases,” said South Dundas treasurer Shannon Geraghty.
Following council discussions, staff were left to put together some options for council’s consideration at a future meeting, before final decisions are made.
The options may show a phased-in rate increase, an increase in the capital levy, increased connection fees and an increase in the proportion of sewer charges for Iroquois residents.
All these increases reflect the need to appropriately cover costs, and to ensure that those using each of the systems are paying to cover their portion of usage.
This long list of needed changes is a direct result of waiting so long for this type of comprehensive rate review.
“We need to do a rate review every year, that way the rates can be adjusted as needed,” said Geraghty.
“We have to review this every year,” agree Byvelds. “Now, we have to pay the price for waiting.”
Williamsburg residents and businesses connected to the municipal sewer system, will also see large increases in their annual fees, however, the fee structure is much less complicated.
They presently pay $98 per year. Staff is proposing to increase that fee by $40 per year, for the next five years.