Average household to face $9 increase in utility fees in 2018

By Chad Klassen
November 28, 2017 - 5:37pm

KAMLOOPS — Residents are getting a break on their utility rates for next year as a result of the city's contract with Recycle BC. 

The average household will still face a $9 increase in 2018, but with $38 coming off the utility bill thanks to $1.1 million from Recycle BC, it is the lowest increase in recent years. 

"It's really low," said finance director Kathy Humphrey. "We haven't historically had the decrease in recycling or garbage that we do this year, so having a $38 drop for most households in recycling is a great offset to the increase they're having in sewer. 

The sewer rates are going up 15% in 2018 and 2019, following the three-year cycle that began last year. 

"We have a fairly signifcant project to replace the sewer main on Tranquille Road and it's about a $10 million project scheduled for 2020 and 2021, so we are trying to build up the reserve so that we can fund that project without any debt."

There were questions from a couple council members on Tuesday on frontloading the increase. Sewer rate increases not rising as sharply in the following years at 2.5% for 2020 and 2% in 2021 and 2022 once the project is paid for. 

"I'm just curious why wouldn't we just even it out? Why have a hit at the beginning?" said councillor Denis Walsh. "You're shooting for this project that's coming in 2020, 2021. Why wouldn't we just do 8% over the four years or five years?"

On the recycling, Walsh, who voted to pass the city's recommendation, argued residents should be getting more back given the $1.1 million the city is receiving from Recyling BC and the $800,000 it is saving in processing fees. 

"Parking should pay for parking, recycling should pay for recycling," noted Walsh. "If we recoup $1.9 million, I think recycling could really be free for everybody because we got this money coming in annually."

Mayor Ken Christian said keeping some of the cost savings from the recycle program is wise moving forward. 

"You can give it back one year and take it the next year," said Christian. "I prefer to see a little bit of an evening happening across our utility rates because we do have projects that we have been hearing from the public about, in particular place to deposit recycled glass. What are we going to do with plastics, what are we going to do with organics?"

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