Town reviewing utility rates and fees

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INNISFAIL – The town will review all water and wastewater rates set out in the Utilities Bylaw to ensure they are fair for all users.

“You have to treat everybody equally when you are dealing with water and utility rates. We are doing that and it impacts the budget as well,” said Mayor Jim Romane, who was in 2018 budget deliberations last week with his council colleagues. “We will review all the utilities and garbage of course throughout the town. I just want it fair for everybody.”

Romane’s motion for the review at council’s Nov. 27 regular meeting was passed, although opposed by councillors Gavin Bates, Doug Bos and Danny Rieberger.

The mayor’s desire for the review followed a presentation by representatives of the eight homeowners of the Aspen Ridge Condo Association to review what they considered as “extreme costs” in their utility billings for the five-month period of May 1 to Sept. 30 of this year.

Joyce Boon, president of the condo association, told council the issue was with sewer costs on their monthly utility bills, a cost her fellow residents believed was unreasonable. Council was told the association purchased a separate water meter from the town earlier this year that was strictly for the condo association’s irrigation system, over and above the eight individual water meters already purchased and installed for each residence.

In a Nov. 10 letter to council, Boon said the separate water meter is for seasonal use only — to water the grass, shrubs and trees, and that no water is going into the town’s sanitary system.

“The additional sewer charges are an unnecessary cost,” said Boon.

Council was presented with a detailed cost record the association faced earlier this year.

The five-month utility cost for the association was $1,081.80 for water and $1,505.45 for wastewater, a total of $2,587.25. That cost is in addition to each owner paying about $75 a month for both water and wastewater for each of the eight homes. In total, says the association, the town was paid $5,587.25 for five months of utilities from the residents of the condo association.

Although no motion was passed by council to have administration look at the specific issue facing the condo association, the Utility Bylaw’s rates and fees will be reviewed and presented to council early in the new year.

“I think they (condo association) did make a good presentation, but I think everybody is going to benefit from the review,” said Romane. “The only thing is that we had to be careful because there are other people in the same situation as they are. You have to treat everybody equally when you are dealing with water and utility rates.”

Mayor Jim Romane

“I think they (condo association) did make a good presentation, but I think everybody is going to benefit from the review. The only thing is that we had to be careful because there are other people in the same situation as they are.”

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Johnnie Bachusky

Johnnie Bachusky joined the Innisfail Province as editor in 2013. He covers Innisfail and Red Deer County news, police, crime and municipal politics. He is also a photographer and columnist.