Comox council took the first steps in drafting their financial plan by setting utility rates and approved forwarding readings of a slight increase in both water and sewer rates.
Despite the increases, most residents will actually pay a little less than what is proposed, due to rate increase not applying to the first part of this year because of November’s general election.
Rate changes will now apply after the bylaws are formally adopted.
At last Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Don Jacquest, director of finance, explained in his report to council the town works with three classes of customers, commercial/industrial/institutional, metered residential and flat fee (mostly residential) customers.
He asked council to increase the rate per cubic metre from $0.96 to $0.99 (for metered customers who use more than 168 m3); increase the rate for residential use over 600 m3 from $1.44 to $1.49; add a $30 fee to manually read a meter and calculate a pro-rated billing between normal month-end readings and increase connection fees by two per cent.
Jacquest noted the town’s largest operating costs are bulk water purchased from the Regional District followed by maintenance costs and overhead recoveries.
As for sewer rates, taxpayers will also pay a bit less than the rates approved due to the shift in bylaw adoption.
Jacquest said the town’s rates are set to pay for operating costs — the largest one set at the Regional District’s sewer requisition, which is expected to be 79 per cent of operating costs in 2015.
He recommend a $27 increase to the residential sewer rate, from $321 to $348, with proportional increases to the commercial, industrial and institutional minimums.
For non-residential customers, Jacquest noted he is following with a pro-rated rate increase for 2015.
The bylaws were forwarded to the Jan. 21 council meeting for formal reading, which occurred after the Record went to print.
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In hopes of stopping additional flooding and property damage, Comox council authorized staff to spend up to $80,000 to fix a section of storm sewer main along Port Augusta Street near The Blackfin Pub.
Sections of the sewer from Beaufort Avenue to the outfall is failing and in the last six months have created issues for surrounding properties, explained Shelley Ashfield, municipal engineer for the town. in her report.
She noted they plan on replacing the 150mm storm main with a 200mm PVC pipe.