City H2O hike a go

By Geoff Lee

December 8, 2015 12:15 PM

Rising water rates part of restructuring plan

The city of Lloydminster hopes to generate more than $52 million in revenues over the next three years by hiking residential and commercial water rates and changing the rate structure.
Fixed rates based on meter size are proposed to increase by two per cent in 2016, three per cent in 2017 and three per cent in 2018, effective Jan. 1.
The variable rate will include a second tier fee for consumption up to and over 60 cubic metres per each two month billing period.
The variable consumption rate up to 60 cubic meters of water could rise two per cent in 2016, three per cent in 2017 and three per cent in 2018.
Variable consumption rates over 60 cubic metres are set to scale up by 6.6 per cent in 2016, three per cent in 2017 and three per cent in 2018.
Increased revenue will offset the city’s operating costs and help fund capital upgrades in future years.
Council gave the rate proposal bylaw a second reading Nov. 23 as some councillors, including Ken Baker, gave the idea a thumbs down.
“We can’t build it all in one day,” he said during discussion period.
“Our job is to provide essential services first.”
In favour of the rate increase is Coun. Larry Sauer who argues no one wants to see increases, but the city has to pay for system improvements and this would do that in annual increments.
The city estimates it needs $305 million dollars to balance operating budgets and offset capital spending costs and investments, some of which date back to 2009. The current three year rate structure expires on Dec. 31.
Alan Cayford, director of public, works said there’s a water conservative incentive behind the new two tiered consumption hikes.
“The water and waste water team looked at numerous options and we came up with something we thought was fair for all the users — (it) gives us an opportunity to be good environmental stewards and promote some conservation in the water system,” he said.
Cayford added the new rate structure is essentially an opportunity for residenetial users to write their own bill.
He said the average family of four uses about 20 cubic metres a month, or 40 cubic metres in the billing period,  well below the 60 cubic metres threshold in the first tier variable rate structure.
“You have to be doing a lot of things to be using all that water. It was a number that affected the right amount of people,” Cayford said.
In addition he said it won’t affect the average residential user either. “It was a number that made sense in the big scheme,” said Cayford
Mayor Rob Saunders also threw his hat into the ring in favour of the rate hikes to help residents and businesses to cut back on water consumption.
“I think one of our councillors mentioned today that it is actually an incentive to save water and cut back on water,” said Saunders.
“We know it’s our essential core service provided to all our residents and there’s investment in that.
Saunders said there’s investment on the front end and there’s a capital investment with the increase in user fees and volume consumption.
“These things do cost money and they need to be supported financially by the users,” he added.
The bylaw is expected to pass at the Dec. 14 council meeting.

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