Following a seven-year hold on water and sewer rates, the City of Charlottetown has announced a big increase, and says it will continue to put them up annually.
The increase, estimated at 25 per cent for the average household, was announced as part of the city's budget, which was released Wednesday.
"The water and sewer utility has been completing significant infrastructure upgrades and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future," said Coun. Terry Bernard, finance committee chair, in a news release.
"This requires significant investment."
Water rates will rise with the consumer price index in subsequent years.
Utility's deficit climbing
The increase is connected to the move to metered water. The last time rates went up, in 2012, most residents were unmetered. Currently all but 200 residents are metered.
The idea behind moving to meters was to reduce consumption, and Bernard said this has been successful. But with consumption down, and meters in place, revenues are no longer keeping pace with expenses.
The deficit for the water and sewer utility is projected to be $673,594 in 2018-19, and $1.2 million in 2019-20. The utility has faced significant expenses with the creation of the new well field in Miltonvale Park and expanding into new subdivisions.
Despite the rate increase, Bernard said overall this is a good news story. The decrease in water consumption is not only good for the environment, but has saved the utility the cost of building a third well field. Back in 2005, he said, the need for a third well field was assumed.
"After we finished the second one we were going to immediately start looking for a third," he said.
City officials are now exploring integrating the Charlottetown water system with Cornwall and Stratford, which could mean no third well field would be required for the foreseeable future.
The following increases were effective April 1.
- Standard residential water meter charge: Up one cent a day to 33.6 cents.
- Water consumption charge: Up 11.8 cents to 38.2 cents per cubic metre.
- Standard residential sewer meter charge: Up 7.5 cents a day to 57.7 cents.
- Sewer treatment charge: Up 34 cents to 92 cents per cubic metre.
- Bernard noted there has also been significant expansion of the city's sewer plant.
The city estimates for the average household water and sewer costs will go up $117 per year. Bernard noted the increase comes to about 13 per cent more than the 2012 fixed rate for the average household.
The city included with the budget document a table showing Charlottetown water and sewer rates are at the low end in the region.
It estimates the average household water and sewer costs will be $577, compared to $574 in Truro, N.S., $686 in Moncton, N.B., $845 in Halifax, and $1,164 in Saint John.
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