Get ready to dig deeper into your taxpayer pocket
It could get more expensive to be a Kamloops homeowner in the new year.
Two staff reports will be heading to city council today) Dec. 6), recommending rate increases for a pair of utilities.
City staff is proposing an increase in water- and sewer-utility rates by five per cent and curbside and commercial-garbage collection rates by five and 10 per cent respectively.
If approved by council, the rates would take effect on Jan. 1.
The water- and sewer-rate increases would work out to about an extra $26 for water service and an extra $12 for sewer service annually for a typical single-family dwelling.
According to a staff report, there are several reasons behind the sewer-rate increase recommendation, including an expected large jump in fuel and hydro costs next year, inflationary increases for services and labour, increased capital expenditures and a plan to maintain a fund-reserve balance equivalent to 25 per cent of annual revenues.
David Duckworth, director of public works and sustainability, noted similar increases are planned for the next five years.
“We look at a five-year operational plan to determine where rates have to be over five years in order to recover enough money to operate all the utilities,” he said.
Though council can reject the request and cover the increased costs using the utility’s reserve fund, Duckworth cautioned against the idea.
To do so, he said, would be to enter into “a false economy,” predicting the reserve funds in that scenario would eventually be used up.
Reserve funds are typically used for emergencies similar to the sewage failure that occurred this past summer in the Mission Flats area.
The report also noted the increase would have been 14 per cent if the universal water-metering program had not been implemented.
As for garbage collection, the average homeowner who uses a 245-litre cart will see a $6.52 increase in fees.
A report indicates the fee increase is required due to increased fuel costs, vehicle maintenance and landfill-disposal fees.
In 2012, the city is expecting to spend $220,000 extra for monthly vehicle expenses related to fuel, $173,000 more for landfill tipping fees and $150,000 more for labour costs.
Under the new fee scheme, homeowners will pay $119 for collection of a 254-litre cart, compared with Prince George and Kelowna, where residents pay $169 and $188 respectively.
Duckworth noted the biggest cost in the city’s sold-waste plan is the operation of the landfill.
Though there are a few capital projects in the plan that could result in rate raises in future years, he said the utility isn’t prone to large fluctuations in capital expenditures like sewer and water.