By Barb McKay
A decision on changes to Tiverton and Kincardine water rates won’t be made until the Tiverton Ratepayers’ Association has its say.
Kincardine treasurer Roxana Baumann presented Kincardine council with five options worked out by municipal staff for consolidating Tiverton and Kincardine water rates. The issue has been one that has been on the council agenda for the past several months, after Tiverton ratepayers became complaining about a disparity in fees between the two water systems. Currently, Kincardine residents pay a fixed rate of $24.65 per month for water plus a consumption rate of 80 cents per cubic metre. Tiverton residents pay $34.57 per month plus a consumption rate of $1.02 per cubic metre.
Last month, Kincardine council agreed to freeze Tiverton water rates until they came within a range of fairness (three per cent) of Kincardine’s rates. Staff was directed to come back with a report that would outline how to best merge the two systems.
Staff used information from a water rates proposal, developed by Hemson Consulting, as well as data from consumption and connection patterns from 2011 and this year.
Baumann told council that staff recommended an option that would increase fees for Kincardine at an accelerated rate to align Kincardine and Tiverton water rates by 2020. Over the next seven years, Kincardine residents would experience an average increase (metered rate and flat fee) of $3.55 per month, or $298 in total. Baumann said the option is the most reasonable because it avoids any significant rate spikes over the seven year period, uses the most updated consumption and connection data and is a full cost recovery model.
Councillor Maureen Couture said she preferred the first option presented, that allowed Kincardine rates to increase at the current rate until they catch up to Tiverton rates in 2021. She said it wasn’t fair to expect Kincardine residents to carry the cost to replenish Tiverton’s water reserves.
Baumann said that option would leave a shortfall in the water reserves.
“More than $200,000 to $875,000 could be the shortfall if we were simply to freeze Tiverton rates without adjusting Kincardine’s rates,” she said.
Baumann added that regardless of what option is selected, water rates should be revisited every five years.
Councillor Ron Coristine said that he had been contacted by the president of the Tiverton Ratepayers’ Association who asked that the matter be deferred until the Oct. 16 planning meeting to allow Tiverton ratepayers to address council.
“I’m surprised by the deferral (request),” said councillor Ken Craig. “Here we are guaranteeing that their rates won’t go up for seven years. I’m wondering what the reasoning would be.”
Council agreed to bring the discussion back to the Oct. 16 meeting.