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Water and sewer rates rising in Summerside thanks to 'tough choices' budget

The City of Summerside has allocated $1.4 million for water and sewer utility upgrades it says are necessary to keep up with operating costs.  (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
The City of Summerside has allocated $1.4 million for water and sewer utility upgrades it says are necessary to keep up with operating costs. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

Residents of Summerside will be paying an extra $127 a year on their water bill as the P.E.I. city aims to balance its 2023-24 capital and operating budget.

The budget, released Monday, also includes an "aggressive and bold investment" of $5.5 million for phase one of Summerside's east-west connector road, which would link Water Street East near Reads Corner with Ryan Street and MacEwen Road.

"This isn't an easy budget," Mayor Dan Kutcher said in a news release Monday.

"Council has made tough choices about water and sewer rates, restrained targeted spending, and ensuring we don't borrow new money to pay old debts."

The city has allocated $1.4 million to water and sewer utility upgrades, with other levels of government chipping in $1.1 million, bringing the total sum for 2023-2024 to $2.5 million.

Water and sewer rates did not change in 2022-23, but the city said it will need to raise rates by about 35 cents a day to keep up with the cost of operating the water and sewer utility.

Property taxes and electricity rates will not go up.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Coun. Bruce MacDougall, chair of financial services for the city, said the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and market pressures made this year's budget process particularly difficult. He said the amount of money needed for debt servicing has risen, and operating expenses are outpacing municipal revenues.

Put simply, everything costs more than it has in the past. — Bruce MacDougall

"Put simply, everything costs more than it has in the past," he said in the release.

MacDougall said the city had to borrow money for projects such as the Central Street roundabout. He said the city's debt is about $75 million — about 75 per cent of its legislated borrowing capacity.

He said phase one of the east-west connector will open significant land for much-needed residential and commercial development to deliver more single-unit and multi-unit housing lots.

Other highlights in the operating budget include:

  • $522,350 in funding for community organizations (including an extra $50,000 for groups supporting the most vulnerable).

  • $385,000 in improvements to city's boardwalk and active transportation projects.