Sunday, January 3, 2010

Water Devolution -- By Kate Bouey, SUN FM

Thu, 2009-12-31 08:50.
Local News

Vernon's mayor has shrugged off accusations that the city wants to control Greater Vernon water. The issue of water devolution is in the hands of an arbitrator.

Mayor Wayne Lippert is hopeful the water devolution controversy can be resolved sometime in 2010. In a year-end interview with SUN-FM, Lippert also denied the issue had harmed relations with Coldstream council.

Coldstream council has provisionally budgeted 100-thousand dollars for legal fees. Lippert says the city has not budgeted any extra funds for arbitration. ($220,000 legal)

- Vernon

Mayor Lippert seems to be overly optimistic.

I, for one, have some resentment about the fact that Coldstream Council had to budget $100,000 (about 2.5% tax increase) for the arbitration process Vernon initiated.

Every proposal Vernon introduced to date towards the resolution of the issues included total control of the utility by Vernon. Knowing Vernon’s objectives that prospect frightens me. The stated objective for Vernon is to save $3.5 million on water rates. Where would those savings come from? From Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C residents. Should this prospect not create some harm to relationships? NORD actually allocated $300,000 for the legal fees associated with the arbitration.

Technically speaking these costs should be covered by the utility as the devolution is actually an assault on the utility as it presently exists. What is the difference, you may ask? Quite a bit.

Under the present arrangement each jurisdiction is responsible for its own legal costs covered by taxation. That means that the per capita cost for Coldstream is significantly higher than it is for Vernon. The same is true for NORD as Electoral Areas B and C also have to foot their arbitration costs. Since all water related issues to date, such as infrastructure financing, water treatment, etc. were financed through water rates it is reasonable to expect that legal costs would also be covered by water rates. That would be more equitable for all customers.

The above opinions are strictly mine and I am not speaking for the rest of Council.


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

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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.