At a special meeting on Dec. 20, Cache Creek council discussed the utility rates for 2023 and gave first, second, and third readings to 2023 Utility Rates Bylaw No. 2-010 2022. The bylaw was adopted at another special meeting on Dec. 22.
The bylaw means that residents will see an increase of 2.5 per cent for both the water and sewer rates in 2023. The rate for garbage will increase by 7 per cent in 2023. For most residents, this will mean an approximate increase of $24 per year for water, sewer, and garbage combined ($6 per quarterly billing cycle).
At the Dec. 20 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Cristina Martini explained that the increases had been discussed at a council workshop. Coun. Carmen Ranta noted that at the workshop, council had expressed its desire to have the increases reflect costs, but also be considerate of not having to implement significant increases in future years.
Mayor John Ranta said that he had some concerns about the rates of increase over the past four years, noting that utilities had increased by a combined 4.32 per cent (2019), 10.25 per cent (2020), 24.21 per cent (2021), and 24.86 per cent (2022). He said that the combined increased of 2.71 per cent for 2023 was “arguably more modest” and a step in the right direction, but that the previous increases were, in his opinion, excessive, and that he would have difficulty supporting the proposed increase.
Coun. Sue Peters, speaking as the only person at the table who had been on council for the previous four years, said that the last council had looked at sustainability and not depending on the landfill: “That’s why those decisions were made.” She added that each council makes its decisions based on what it thinks is best for the community. “They were not easily made, they were not happily made, but we felt that they were necessary.”
Mayor Ranta was the only person who voted in opposition to the bylaw.
At the Dec. 20 meeting, council discussed two requests for support. The first was from the organizers of the third annual Guns and Hoses charity hockey game, taking place in Ashcroft on Jan. 21, proceeds from which will benefit the Honour Ranch. Chief Administrative Officer Damian Couture clarified that the village had not made a donation to the event in past years.
Coun. Ranta noted that the event is in support of a valuable cause, and made a motion that the village donate $100. Mayor Ranta expressed his optimism that in future years, revenue from investments in the Cache Creek Community Fund would cover requests of this nature.
The second request was from the Ashcroft and Area Community Resource Society, asking for support for the 2022 Christmas Hamper program. Council had previously asked how much had been donated in the past, and Couture said that in 2021 the amount was $100. An initial motion to again donate $100 was raised, at Coun. Ranta’s request, to $125, to reflect rising costs, with Mayor Ranta opposed on the grounds that he didn’t know if the village was in a position to afford “those sorts of things” and stating he would have preferred the amount to remain at $100. Peters noted that more than 170 hampers were distributed on Dec. 16.
Also at the Dec. 20 meeting, council discussed the request from Mark and Dianne Boutilier for free use of the Campbell Hill airstrip for a drag race event to take place on the Graffiti Days weekend in June 2023. A motion to approve free use of the site for that event and for another one in 2023 was passed, as was a second motion approving a request that the site be mowed prior to the events, and that the organizers could use snow fences.