The cost of doing business – your business, to be precise – is going up significantly this year, with Woolwich residents facing a 7.6 per cent increase in wastewater rates.
Water rates will be pretty much business as usual, with just a small tweak from last year.
In approving discussing budgets for water and wastewater at a meeting January 30, councillors backed a plan to boost the water rate slightly to $1.72 per cubic metre from $1.71, a 0.85 per cent increase even though the region has increased its bulk water rate by 1.9 per cent.
The rate adjustment will cost $2.04 per year or $0.34 per bimonthly billing period to the average user’s bill, based on 204 cubic meters annually.
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The township had held the water rate steady in 2017.
Wastewater charges are on the rise by 7.61 per cent, to $2.69 per cubic meter from $2.50, reflecting a regional price increase of 7.9 per cent, director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors. Last year, the rate increased 3.87 per cent.
The rate hike will add about $38.76 a year – $6.46 per bimonthly billing period.
Petherick noted that, while regional water charges account for 70 per cent of the township’s operating costs, adjustments to its own budget and a healthy financial picture allow for flexibility in offsetting price hikes from the region, which has been boosting prices for years, often at many times the rate of inflation. Huge increases have been the norm in recent years, as the region implements the user-pay, full-cost-recovery model for its water and wastewater systems, as mandated by the province.
Water hikes are predicted to be more moderate in the future, 1.9 per cent in 2019 and 2.9 per cent from 2020 to 2026.
On the wastewater side, the region expects to hit customers with a 5.9 per cent increase in 2019, and 3.9 per cent annually between 2020 and 2026.
Residents can also expect an extra ding on their bills as the township replaces aging water meters. Along with allowing for remote reading of the meters, the new units are expected to be more accurate in measuring water usage.
Dan Kennaley, the township’s director of engineering and planning, said the upgrade and replacement project will cost about $450,000 this year and next.
Pointing out that manual meter reading costs the township about $15,000 a year, Coun. Patrick Merlihan questioned the payback period of a $900,000 investment in new meters that can be read remotely, with Kennaley noting that all new meters installed or replaced in the last few years have included the new technology. Existing meters have a lifespan of about 10 years, so all will need to be replaced eventually.