Water budgets point to $58 increase for average homeowner
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Although the city budget won’t be finalized until February, London residents will likely be looking at $58 increase for their water and wastewater services.
During the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meeting on Monday (Oct. 29), city staff presented the draft water and wastewater budgets, which call for a hike of eight per cent and seven per cent respectively. The two budgets, which were received as information by the committee, will be discussed at a public meeting on Nov. 19.
John Braam, managing director environmental and engineering services, delivered what he called a “very high level, conceptual” report and is delivered under the city’s existing funding model for water rates.
“We are looking at a combined rate increase of about 7.4 per cent. We are looking at a budget increase of 4.8 per cent. The cost for the average homeowner, in this case, the anticipated increase is about $0.16 per day,” Braam said. “Moving from $2.11 for water, wastewater and storm services to $2.27 cents per day. That is based on consumption remaining constant from this year to next year.”
Total cost changes, Braam said, will end up running $25 per annum for the water and wastewater treatment will be an increase of $33 per year.
The projections delivered by staff have the city achieving sustainability for water and wastewater in 2018. By utilizing the recently presented new funding model, that timetable moves up by two years.
Discussion was limited around the two budget proposals as they were accepted as information for the public meeting. However, there were several questions around issues such as sustainability and how costs could be further reduced.
Ward 6 Councillor Nancy Branscombe brought forward the question of what sustainability means and that when the city reaches it, what it will mean for the city’s infrastructure needs.
“Past council decisions used money for other things that rightly should have gone to repair and upgrade those underground services, so we got behind,” Branscombe said. “So in 2018, does that (suggested) three per cent going to give us the reserves we need to maintain this system? Any increase is difficult, but it is more so if we have more emergencies because we aren’t fixing what is underground.”
In responding to the question, Braam said current or future rate increases are designed to bring about a system that is sustainable.
“It is all about managing the (infrastructure) gap and the costs associated with the gap. What we get to under sustainability is the financial means by which we can control all our expenditures,” Braam said. “At this point in time we are off-loading the costs of our current system to future generations until we can get sustainability under control.”
Ward 10 Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen said with the average homeowner looking at a $58 increase, and in light of high unemployment and tight budgets, it “begs the question” for the city to look for different models. Those different models, Van Meerbergen said, could possibly include more public/private partnerships.
“I really do think that it is incumbent upon us to find more cost efficient ways, to find cost breaks for the ratepayer,” Van Meerbergen said. “In this type of economy a $58 hike is still a sizeable hike with tight budgets.”
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