Utility rates rise, discount eliminated

Ashcroft Council votes to increase water and sewer rates and eliminate the 40-year old seniors discount.

Ashcroft residents will be getting a new water treatment plant in the near future. They’ll also be seeing a hike in water and sewer rates as well as the elimination of the seniors’ 25 per cent discount.

“We committed to this in the grant application for water system,” said Mayor Jack Jeyes as Council discussed it at the Aug. 24 meeting.

The water master plan (WMP), which provided the base of the Village’s application for the $5,725,356 grant, indicated that Council would increase user fees by 15 per cent annually over the next five years.

The utilities aren’t paying for themselves as they should be, said Jeyes, and operating costs will increase with the new upgrades.

The last time sewer and water rates were adjusted was 2006.

Council agreed to a motion that water user rates be increased by 15 per cent for the period 2016-2020, sewer user rates be increased by 10 per cent per year from 2017-2021 and the additional discount for those eligible for the additional home owner grant be phased out at five per cent per year from 2017-2021.

“It’s a horrible thing to have to do and I hate suggesting it, but what percentage of our taxpayers are seniors?” said Coun. Barbara Roden. “We’re foregoing a lot of income.”

Mayor Jeyes said most seniors today are in better financial position than they were 40 years ago when this policy was implemented. “But as a senior, I’m not looking forward to paying more.”

“It’s going to be a hit for some people,” stated Coun. Al Mertens.

Administrator Michelle Allen said if people wished to make a complaint, the bylaws that will put the changes into effect won’t be finalized until October.

However, she said, “staff believes we did a thorough job in our investigation and the information is there.”

Coun. Alf Trill said he didn’t like it either but hoped that it would even out for everyone in the end.

A staff report reminded Council that the water rates will no doubt change prior to 2020 with the installation of water meters. There is no plan in place for them but meters are also mentioned in the WMP and will be required in due course.

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