Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Water rates for 2011 -- a minority report from GVAC.

When I first came to Coldstream both water and sewer services were charged on a flat fee basis in Greater Vernon. Although I had to install a water meter in my new home, there were no water meters in Vernon and only some of the residences had water meters in Coldstream. Agriculture water has always been charged on an allocation basis so the practice was generally accepted. Everyone used as much water as they wanted, it was like a smorgasbord for water. Sewer fees were also charged on a flat fee basis.

Eventually we started to experience major water shortages and the attitude towards water changed. Greater Vernon Water Utility completed installation of water meters to all their customers and they converted to the user pay system. There was a small access fee charged and the rest of the charge was calculated on consumption. Even last year the access fee was relatively small and included a modest consumption of 20 m3 per quarter at $50.17.

This year’s adopted rate structure is a major step backwards. The 50% flat fee policy, or a parcel tax, in itself is wrong and reduces our ability to encourage conservation.

Councillor Spiers produced three alternate options maintaining the 50% flat fee policy and at the same time providing a more reasonable fee increases for customers as well as ensuring the needed revenue stream. While I take issue with the high flat fee portion, I did support his Option 3 as it included 20 m3 water in the flat fee. There was a slight increase of 8 cents (8.6%) proposed for commercial customers which was less than the average domestic customer increases. Unfortunately, his proposals were not considered by the rest of the Committee. I was able to add 10 m3 per quarter included in the base fee ($28 per year) but that was all the concessions I could achieve.

One of my concerns as a local politician has always been the way we collect fees for water and sewer. Last year some steps were taken by Coldstream Council to improve the system by getting closer to a user pay system. The opposing argument expressed by some Council members during debate was that they did not want to have large increases imposed on larger families, who produce larger volumes of sewage, all at once. My argument was then and now that larger families are accustomed to pay more for goods and services for their families as they use more goods and services. Council agreed at that time that the issue will be revisited for 2012 and the rates will be more inclined to be user pay.

Now that we were debating the water rates the argument from some politicians was that it is acceptable for low water consumers to absorb exorbitant water rates in a single jump. For instance, the accepted rate system creates a single year increase of 47.5% or $95.32 for those consumers around the 20 m3 consumption range. Is this is a reward for being a good consumer and saving water?

The attachments below are as follows:

1 Explanation of Proposals 1-3 as compared to GVAC proposal;
2 Revenue streams based on each proposal;
3 Increase comparison of proposed Option 3 to GVAC proposal;
4 Increases based on consumption levels of Option 3;
5 Actual increases based on accepted GVAC Option.

In my opinion, Option 3, while not perfect, is a significantly better model for recovering revenues than the one that was adopted by GVAC. As always, your comments are welcome.


No comments:

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.

Gyula Kiss;


We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
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.