Water, sewer rates to go up, waste to remain the same

by Tristan Turner

Council unanimously gave First Reading to three separate bylaws related to utilities at their meeting on Nov. 25.: Sewer Rates Bylaw 23/2014, Water Rates Bylaw 24/2014, and Waste Management Bylaw 25/2014.

Water and Sewer up 3.33 per cent

If the bylaws pass Third Reading, residents can expect an average 3.12 per cent increase to their sewer bill. The average resident’s water bill is set to rise from $52.59 per month for water to $54.34, an increase of 3.33 per cent. On the sewer side, the rate is set to increase from $36.64 per month for the average user to $37.67 per month, an increase of 2.81 per cent.

The increases are part of Morinville’s cost recovery model for utilities that has been in place since 2005. This model factors in a Long-Term Investment Rate of 1.25 per cent, a Current Market Average Rate of 3.02 per cent, an Average Rate of Amortization of 1.46 per cent, and a Construction Price Index of 2.20 per cent. The combination of factors creates a need for a 4.11 per cent rate of return for the Town’s Sewer Utility. Based on the rates proposed within the bylaw, the Town will achieve a surplus of $525,253. Similarly, a rate of return of 4.03 per cent is proposed for the water utility. Based on the proposed 2015 rates, a surplus of $955,552 would be created. The surpluses will be saved for future maintenance, replacements or upgrades to the system.

Additionally, the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission and Epcor Water services are both indicating they will have a price increase of 6.67 per cent in the New Year.

No increase to waste costs

Though water and sewer are increasing, the Town is not planning to increase its solid waste fees.

Standstone Enviro-Waste Service Ltd., the Town’s private service provider, is planning to increase their fees by 2.2 per cent, and the Roseridge Waste Management Services Commission is increasing its current rate to $34 per tonne for 2015 for non-organics and retaining the rate of $32 for organics.

Morinville’s Director of Public Works Claude Valcourt said, based on current rates and an anticipated 2014 surplus of $70,000 in the solid waste management area, he believed town revenues were sufficient to meet the increased costs for 2015 without need to raise fees for residents.

However condominiums and apartment buildings renting metal bins will see an increase of 2.2 per cent based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

When Council approved the waste rates for 2014, they decided to hold off on a bi-weekly garbage pick-up. That may be revisited this year. “We did say when we voted last year that we wanted to evaluate what had happened this year, and we are hoping to go to this [bi-weekly pickup],” Mayor Lisa Holmes said. “So it might be worth putting out to the public hearing at least.”

Councillor Ladouceur asked if administration could bring forward figures for bi-weekly garbage pick up for the next Council meeting so that it could be considered.

Second and Third Reading are set for Dec. 9.

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