Plympton-Wyoming residents are facing rising water and sewer rates over the next couple of years.
Town council recently approved a water and sewer budget with a 5.2 per cent increase in rates. That means about $44 more per year for people in Wyoming and $77 per year more for ratepayers in Plympton.
But town staff and the chair of the water committee are warning the increase should have been much higher to maintain services without draining the capital reserves.
David Fielding, the director of public works, says an asset management study done several years ago didn’t look closely at the needs of the water and sewer budgets. It forecasted stable water rates. With the province forcing municipalities for fund water plants through water rates alone, it is becoming more difficult to hold the line.
Fielding says the 2015 water and sewer budget takes money out of reserves for every single capital project. “Eventually were going to run out and you’ll struggle with double digit increases,” he says.
Councilor Ron Schenk, chair of the water committee, agrees. He wanted to raise rates 18 per cent this year to deal with the problems. That would have meant a $101 increase this year to Wyoming ratepayers and $165 in Plympton.
“Water may get expensive – some people may not be able to afford water,” he told councilors recently. “But we may need a line in our budget that’s a charity fund…You can’t let the whole water system go because a few people need help.”
But some councilors balked at the idea. “Not acceptable just not acceptable,” says Councilor Bob Woolvett. “There is no way we can justify it – that just looks at bad management.
“We can’t spring these kind of increases on people were worse than the provincial government,” he says.
Councilor Ben Dekker suggested a 10 per cent increase this year and next telling taxpayers “that’s the cost of servicing you.”
But Schenk and Fielding say the large increases may continue. “This is not a one-year deal; this could be a multiple year deal,” says Fielding.
Mayor Lonny Napper suggested – and the majority of council agreed – the town hold to the 5.2 per cent increase this year and see if a new contract to run both the water and sewage plant will save money before raising rates dramatically.