Friday, August 1, 2014

An argument for fair water rates!

Councillor Spiers has developed an online water rate calculator (below) utilizing the complicated water rate system  Greater Vernon staff devised.

The system is composed of a large base fee component ($99.80 per quarter) and a five tier rate scale. In addition special rates apply to Industrial, Commercial and Institutional customers at a cut rate of $1.50 per cubic meters.

By entering your quarterly consumption your actual bill for the quarter is presented. You are also presented with the cost per cubic meter at the bottom of the calculator. Note that the less water you use the higher the unit cost is. This is in direct contradiction of principle d. of the key principles adopted by all parties at the creation of the water utility, namely:

    "d.  All non-agricultural rates would be on a volume basis and uniform throughout the service area."

The intended policy of the utility is to encourage water saving and reward customers for saving water. In reality we punish customers who save water by selling them water at a higher unit cost. A customer who uses no water at all pays $99.80 per quarter for nothing. A low user of 20 cu. m. per quarter is charged $5.77 per cu. m. while a user of 10 cu. m. is paying $10.48 per cu. m. Hardly uniform rates on a volume basis! In contrast a customer using 500 cu. m. is only charged $2.20 per cu. m.

We all agree that everyone within the service area should contribute something for the ability to connect to our system. However, this contribution should be minimal if we believe in the user pay system: you pay for what you use. A true user pay system must be implemented to be fair to all customers.

With this principle in mind a reasonable user pay system would have a minimum rate based on, say, 10cu. m. minimum at the calculated unit cost (in our case $3.20 per cu. m., or $32.00 minimum). All properties within the service area would pay this quarterly fee for which they would be eligible to use up to 10 cu. m. of water.

Customers who use more water per quarter would pay the used cu. m. multiplied by $3.20. Example: consumption of 45 cu. m. would cost $144 (45*3.20). Even the base fee for a lot without structure would be more fair at $32.00 per quarter.   

This system would reward low consumers and charge a fair rate to all customers based on their consumption. Industrial, Commercial and Institutional customers should pay the same rate as everyone else. There is no reason for the general customer to subsidize ICI customers. Water prices are business expenses and tax deductible. 

Most customers use less than 47 cu. m. during the first quarter of the year. Those will all benefit from the true user pay system but still pay the fair rates. Additional consumption is not charged at an artificial subsidized rate but at true cost.

Ask your representatives why they don't support fair user-pay water rates!


A Calculator where you can interactively enter your quarterly consumption totals in m3 and see your $ increase can be found at:  Rates Effective April 1, 2014


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An excellent presentation-
Recently I have heard many taxpayers complaining about this unfair system.
One wonders whether our politicians have the interest of the taxpayer as a priority.
As a taxpayer who has lived for over thirty years in Vernon I am concerned at the high paying bureaucratic jobs being created within the water administration while the service to the taxpayer is minimal and the cost prohibitive.
Perhaps the time has come for taxpayers to mobilise once more.
Keep up the good work.

Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.