Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Clearing up the confusion about the increase in sewer rates.

There is some confusion about the sewer fee increases in the last Coldstream's sewer utility bill that needs to be clarified. I will attempt to do so.

When we received the first quarter bill from the city of Vernon on May 3rd we had a surprise. The bill was approximately $150,000 higher than expected.

The short fall was the result of two factors: the increase in the cost of treatment and disposal of sewage from $1.26 to $1.54 per cubic meter (cu m) and the increased volume from the expected 100,000
cu m to 180,000 cu m

This increase, along with the expected increase for the remaining three quarters, would have resulted in a major shortfall in our sewer budget and the Director of Finance brought the issue to Council with recommendations to remedy the problem. His recommended solutions were:
1. to cover the shortfall from the sewer reserves which were just enough to cover it with little reserves remaining, or

2. to cover half the shortfall from reserves the other half from extra billing customers, or

3. to cover all of the shortfall from directly billing it to customers.
The majority of Council opted for option 2 above resulting in the third quarter increase in the sewer bill. In order to make the increase legal Council had to approve an amendment to the Sewer Rates Bylaw.

In the meantime staff succeeded in negotiating an amendment to the obviously faulty sewer volume reading of 180,000
cu m resulting in a $118,000 credit by the City. This reduced our budgetary deficit from about $300,000 to $180,000.

In order to prevent future problems resulting from faulty meter reading Coldstream intends to install a second meter that would ensure double checking of sewage flows. This meter installation would cost about $20,000. Deducting this cost from the $118,000 would leave about $100,000 credit. The question is how should Council divide this credit received? Should we divide it equally between the reserve and the customers or should we credit the entire sum to customers leaving the reserves with a shortfall of about $150,000?

These alternatives will be discussed by Council at the next Finance Committee meeting on the 15th of November. Everyone is welcome to attend Finance Committee meetings. If you wish you could express your preference with an email to me or to Council. I would also welcome any questions.

Gyula Kiss


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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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Gyula Kiss


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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.