Sunday, February 5, 2012

Special Meeting Needed For Water Rates

Written by Peter McIntyre Thursday, 02 February 2012 15:05

One way or another---Greater Vernon residents will be paying more for the next several years to fund multi million dollar water upgrades.

Regional District of North Okanagan staff estimate an extra four million dollars a year will be needed to fund projects to separate the agricultural and domestic water supplies.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chair Mike Macnabb says they'll decide later this month if it's funded by 17 percent fee hikes, combined with using two million from reserves, or through taxation.

He tells Kiss FM, "Ultimately we have to come up with almost 17 million dollars (from fees this year), and that is all on the users, as it's a user pay system."
Coldstream director Gyula Kiss says it would be easier on taxpayers if the funds were borrowed, with payback over a 20 year period.
Vernon director Rob Sawatzky says the hikes shouldn't just the on residential customers.

"Agriculture needs to share in this, they are huge users."

Utility manager Al Cotsworth says the separation projects would be on Old Kamloops Road and on Highway 6 near the Coldstream Ranch.

He says the work will give the Duteau Creek Treatment Plant the ability to provide more domestic water which was an issue last summer.

Directors will hold a special meeting February 22 to discuss the funding options.

If the 17 percent hikes are approved, the cost per cubic metre (1,000 litres) would rise from 78 cents to 91 cents for a customer in the second tier, and from $1.24 to $1.45 for tier four (heavy water user).


  Budget time for local governments.
This is the time of year all local politicians spend long hours with sharp pencils trying to save infinitesimal percentages from their taxes. Every 0.1% of tax increase is scrutinized thoroughly. Interestingly, when it comes to taxes the rules are clear: property taxes are levied based on property tax assessments on a mill rate basis.

However, when it comes to user fees for municipal services the rules are not clear. Fees are subject to political and bureaucratic interpretations and manipulations. You often hear that fees for services are based on the user pay system. In reality, this is often not true. Why, you ask? It is because bureaucrats like to have a significant proportion of the fees collected on fixed basis. The argument is that we must ensure to have sufficient revenues to cover expenses. They also want to ensure that everyone is paying a  reasonable proportion of the operation and maintenance cost of the service. That’s a fair argument but the method to achieve this aim must also be fair.

In the case of water fees Councillor Spiers of Vernon developed a formula which would reward low water users yet provide the necessary revenue for the water utility to cover expenses. I fully support his formula and I hope the rest of GVAC Directors will see the fairness of the proposal.

The basic principle is that everyone pays a flat fee. However, that flat fee would entitle each and every household to 20 cubic meters of water per billing period (3 months). Additional consumption would be covered by a graduated block rate, increasing by consumption. The rate calculator incorporates the proposed 17% increase in fees. Anyone interested in how the new new rates would affect them should visit rates.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nobody at GVWU notices a connection between the major price increases and the decreasing revenues yet?

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;


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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.