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Water and sewer bills increased 4.4 per cent

Water bills will go up an average of 4.4 per cent in 2012.

With no members of the public present, no TV camera and only one reporter, town councillors had little to say when the water and sewer budget was presented Dec. 7.

The increase translates into a $4.17 hike on an average water bill of about $98  a month for a customer who uses 16 cubic metres per month.

For a customer who uses only eight cubic metres, the hike is $5.48 per month or seven percent. A customer who uses 32 cubic metres will see an increase of $5.53 per month or 4.3 per cent.

The inequity in the increases is due to the high base rate of $63.37. The comsumption rate is $2.21 per cubic metre. Effectively, the less water one uses, the more it costs.

The sewer charge makes up the larger component of the combined bill. The base rate and volume rate for sewer jumped 6.7 per cent while the water rates only went up 1.4 per cent.

Regional costs were hiked by 4.33 per cent for sewer and 0.2 per cent for water for a combined increase of 2.56 per cent.

Wet weather is blamed for a large part of the increase. The Town ran a deficit in water billings as it overestimated water usage and underestimated sewer usage when the 2011 budget was set.

At the end of September a revenue shortfall of $355,000 was projected that must be recovered from 2012 water billings.

The 2012 prices were also based on an even larger reduction in water usage and an increase in the contribution to the rate stabilization reserve that funds deficits.

Employee costs are expected to go up 3.5 per cent on the back of a new collective agreement, a one per cent increase in pension contributions and a 12 per cent hike in health benefit premiums.

All told, the employee cost increases account for a 0.43 per cent increase in the water and sewer rates.

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