by Colin Smith
Monthly utilities rates would go up 6.81 per cent for the average homeowner if the 2019 Morinville budget and associated utilities given first reading by Town Council on Tuesday goes through.
A new $5 levy for stormwater services that would come in January 1 accounts for the bulk of the increase. All property owners are currently paying $5.15 in taxes for the service.
Combined rates for water, sanitary sewer and garbage disposal services show an increase of 2.5 per cent for the average residential account. Together with the proposed stormwater levy, this results in a 6.8 per cent rise in combined utility costs for 2019.
In 2019, the average residential client will pay $1,541.63 for water, sanitary sewer, garbage disposal and stormwater services, $126.22 per month.
Last year, the same client paid $1,418.03 for water, sanitary sewer and garbage, $118.17.
Combined rates for those services increase $3.05 to $121.22 per month, $1,544.63 for the year.
Because the existing contract for garbage disposal expires on March 31 next year, the 64-cent monthly rate rise is based on an estimated two per cent contract cost increase.
The proposed change to the manner in which the stormwater utility costs are paid for follows a report from Corvus Business Advisors suggest that Morinville’s present system is inadequate and unsustainable.
The current annual cost of stormwater services is $208,000. This includes infrastructure such as catch basins, manholes, mains, storm ponds and pumping stations that manage the impact of rainstorms and ensure proper drainage.
Morinville’s 3,374 stormwater service customers, both residential and non-residential property owners, are paying the same in taxes for the service.
However, the current charges cover operations only, with no money set aside to replace the Town’s $36 million in stormwater infrastructure or add new facilities.
That the same rate is being paid on commercial properties is also considered unfair because they typically have a greater impact on the stormwater system.
The report recommends a gradual, long-term transition toward full cost rates that will build funds for rehabilitation and maintenance requirements. In 2019, the rate would be $5 for residential property owners and $10 for non-residential property owners.
If the report were followed the charge would rise annually until the year 2027, when it would be $32 per month for residential property and $64 for non-residential property.