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Water and sewer rates to rise again this year, as Woolwich approves budget

Flush with cash or otherwise, you’ll be paying more again this year for turning on the taps and taking care of business in Woolwich, as the township moves to increase its water and wastewater rates.

If you’re on municipal services, water costs are going up 1.55 per cent this year, the usage rate climbing to $1.76 per cubic metre from $1.73. That will add $6.12 per year – $1.02 per bi-monthly billing – to the average user’s bill, based on 204 annual cubic metres or 17 cubic metres per month.

That incorporates a 1.9 per cent increase in the bulk water rate charged to the township by the Region of Waterloo, director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors meeting Tuesday night.

He noted that, while regional water charges account for three-quarters of the township’s operating costs, adjustments to its own budget 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.

“We are keeping our controllable costs in line,” said Petherick.

On the wastewater side, rates are going up 2.17 per cent, to $2.91 per cubic metre from $2.85, largely as a result of charges from the region increasing by 3.9 per cent.

An average customer can expect to pay an additional $12.24 per year ($2.04 per bimonthly billing period) based 204 cubic metres annually.

“With this proposed budget, regional bulk water charges will account for 78% of net operating costs,” said Petherick in his report.

While 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, this year is one of the smaller jumps.

Residents can also expect an extra ding on their bills eventually as the township moves to add equipment for remote reading to help automate billing.

Coun. Scott McMillan, noting the township wasn’t matching the regional hikes, asked whether that meant the township was falling behind.

Petherick noted, however, that township was still generating revenue by managing its own share of the costs.

“We have not been matching the regional increases for the last five or six years or more,” he said. “We try to keep the costs in check.”

Last year, sewer rates climbed 6.1 per cent, though stronger finances meant water rates went up by 0.5 per cent.

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