Comox council approved a motion to a slight increase to 2016 water, sewer and waste collection and disposal fees.
Don Jacquest, director of finance for the town, said beginning Jan. 1, 2016, the Comox Valley Regional District is planning to increase bulk water rates by 0.02 per cubic metre, plus a 10 per cent increase in its sewer requisition, and another $10/tonne increase at the landfill.
The town purchases water and uses utility services through the regional district.
He added in his report the town’s 2015-2019 financial plan anticipated for the rises and projected increases in the 2016 utility fees to pay for them: $6 more for water (from $327 to $333 per residence); $27 more in sewer (from $348 to $375) and $12 more for garbage (from $198 to $210).
Jacquest added there is good news – to Sept. 30 the town’s bulk water purchases are down eight per cent and the sewer flows are down more than two per cent.
He credits that mostly to the Stage Three water restrictions throughout the summer, but added he hopes some of the efficiencies will persist. Despite the regional district’s rate increase, he proposed no increase to flat rate fees for water and proposed less of an increase to the flat rate for residential sewer ($21 instead of $27).
For the town’s metered customers, Jacquest recommended to increase volume-based rates to continue the program of annual increases which has gradually been rising to match the full cost recovery of delivering a cubic metre of water to customers.
Coun. Barbara Price inquired why the costs would rise for metered users if the town is trying to encourage more households to be water efficient.
“Six or eight years ago, we were charging our customers less than we were paying the RD for water. We were losing money per cubic feet,” noted Jacquest.
“We want to recover the full cost of delivering water. Most of our metered customers are commercial and so several years ago, council indicated to staff it was fine moving to full cost recovery but rather involving sharp costs to business sector, we’ve slowly been marching up three cents per year … and our target is a little over $1.20.”
Jacquest added close to half the town is now using water meters.
The motion was unanimously approved.