Volume 12 Week 5

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Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney



 

 

 


(Posted 12 p.m., Feb. 18)
Environment committee approves 6% increase in water rate
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa property owners can expect a six per cent increase in their water and sewer bills this year after the city's environment committee approved the hike on Tuesday.

While the recommended increase must still be approved by city council, it is seen as a mere formality meaning residents can expect to pay an additional $48 a year based on an average level of consumption.

But part of the problem the city faces is a steady drop in consumption in recent years which has led to a reduction in revenue.

It's become a vicious circle. The more the city increases water and sewer rates, the greater the incentive for people to reduce their consumption which equates to less money for the city..

The problem is that the cost of providing clean water and treating waste water keeps rising along with the cost of maintaining the city's aging watermains and sewer pipes.

For now, the only solution is to borrow the necessary funds to maintain the city's infrastructure.

According to the staff report tabled at Tuesday's committee meeting, "If the billing structure is not changed and Council
still desires to maintain the City’s water and sewer assets in a good state of repair the level of debt required will have to increase significantly."

The city plans to borrow more than $97 million for water and sewer asset renewal in 2015, that's on top of the $98.5 million the city plans to pull from its reserves. The cost of financing that debt will be just over $8 million.

As water and sewer revenues continue to decrease, the city will remain dependent on debt financing its water and sewer infrastructure renewal program diverting more and more dollars from elsewhere in the budget.

The projected debt financing charges for the next three years are $8.3 million in 2016, $10.8 million in 2017 and $13 million in 2018.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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