This year’s tentatively approved utility bill increase is the same across the board, whether it is residential or commercial properties affected, city manager Robert Cotterill clarified on Wednesday.
During Monday’s city council meeting, Coun. Charlene Miller said that she was opposing the water and sewer utility rate structure because the rate increase for commercial properties is less than that for residential properties.
“For that point and that point alone I will not support this budget,” she stated at the time.
An administration report by Cotterill on the proposed increase notes that the average residential user will see an increase of 10.4 per cent this year, while the average commercial user will see an increase of 4.66 per cent.
The percentage increases vary because the “average” residential user goes through about 2,500 cubic feet of water per quarter, while the “average” commercial user goes through 31,995 cubic feet.
With utility bills determined by a combination of fixed rates and the variable level of water consumption, the bill increase percentage over last year varies from user to user.
Across the board, those who use city water will pay a rate of $2.78 per 100 cubic feet of water in 2013, which is up 19 cents from last year’s rate.
Also included in utility bills are sewer rates, which are also determined by water use, with council agreeing to keep it at $2.80 per 100 cubic feet this year.
If that’s how they want to look at things, then they better share it with the rest of council. They’d better share how they do their math. - Coun. Charlene Miller
Two fixed rates factored into the utility bill include “water capital works” and “sewer capital works,” which depend on water meter size. For water capital works, rates will range this year from $16.92 per month for 5/8-inch meters, to $236.88 per month for four-inch meters. These numbers represent a respective $2.03 and $28.42 increase over last year’s rates.
For sewer capital works, monthly rates will range from $16.82 for 5/8-inch meters to $235.45 for four-inch meters, representing a $3.92 to $54.88 increase over last year.
Like everything else on the utility bill, these fixed rates are the same for residential and commercial users.
Responding to this clarification on Wednesday, Miller said that 4.66 per cent and 10.4 per cent are still two different numbers.
“If that’s how they want to look at things, then they better share it with the rest of council,” she said. “They’d better share how they do their math.”
Going into budget discussions, she said that she’s worried about how a newly elected council will understand additional such budgetary convolution.