Water and sewer rate restructuring long overdue
By Fred Sherwin
City of Ottawa is asking residents to provide their input
into whether or not the municipal water and sewer rates
should be restructured, and if so, how?
question is being raised at a time when the revenue raised
through water and sewer charges continue to decline as
the cost to provide water and sewer services continues
as water and sewer rates have gone up, consumption, and
ergo revenue, has gone done. Go figure.
the more water and sewer consumption goes down, the greater
the pressure has been to raise the rates in order to maintain
the same revenue stream. Its a classic Catch-22.
are being rewarded for conserving their water
by paying higher rates. It doesnt make any sense.
also doesnt make any sense to use a consumption
tax to pay for fixed infrastructure like sewer pipes and
watermains, or administration and maintenance costs.
consumption tax, which water and sewer rates are, should
be used to pay for consumption. Fixed infrastructure costs
and associated maintenance costs, should be paid for through
a surcharge on your property tax bill. Anyone who uses
water, or benefits from the citys sewer system should
pay the surcharge.
course, this is the way it used to be before amalgamation
and for several years afterwards, but then a funny thing
happened. With skyrocketing infrastructure costs on the
horizon, the council of the day decided to take them off
the property tax bills and place them on the water and
was a politically expedient and shortsighted decision
meant to artificially suppress future tax hikes and has
now come home to roost.
question which remains is whether or not the current city
council has the intestinal fortitude to reverse course.
betting here is that they wont. Instead, they will
very likely add a fixed charge to the base of the water
and sewer bill which wouldnt be subject to fluctuations
in consumption. A similar proposal was rejected by city
council in 2010.
they do implement a fixed charge, the second question
will be whether they will reduce the water and sewer rate
to reflect the extra charge, or theyll just tag
it on and expect everyone to happily pay.
12 p.m., March 11)
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