City sewer rates will rise again

The city said it will use the funds to build up its reserves after council approved an increase that amounts to $11 per year for the average household

Sewer rates are set to rise again this year in Kamloops, as part of a multi-year increase to pay for infrastructure projects.

The city’s corporate services director, Kathy Humphrey, said council approved the 2.5 per cent rate increase, which equates to an annual increase of about $11 per year for the average household, as a result of a need to build up reserves. Staff previously presented to council a multi-year plan to gradually increase sewer rates, as a result of asset management planning. In the past two years, sewer rates rose significantly, by 15 per cent and seven per cent respectively, and rates are expected to now increase by 2.5 per cent year over year through 2025.

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“We have quite a lot of expensive sewer replacement projects, so we need to build up our reserves so that we can fund those projects in future years,” Humphrey said, noting the reserve has been depleted from roads projects like the Tranquille Road project.

Initially prompting the increase in 2018 was increasing costs to manage biosolids. The city faced challenges in disposing of the end product of its sewage treatment process, with residents in areas where it was being delivered protesting. The city’s biosolids are now being composted in Princeton and help to grow flowers, fields and worksites around Kamloops. The city’s five-year financial plan shows the biosolids contract to be worth $1.2 million in 2021, increasing incrementally to nearly $1.8 million in 2025.

As a result of ongoing concerns about failing infrastructure, the city is also increasing rates for irrigation users in Noble Creek. Humphrey said that rate increase went into effect as of Jan. 1, though those users will not pay until the summertime.

The city is currently in the middle of its budget process. City council will review supplemental budget items next month. Council has asked staff to keep this year’s property tax increase to as close to zero as possible. The provisional tax rate increase is currently sitting at about a quarter per cent. Should council approve all of the supplemental budget items, the tax rate increase would be about half a per cent increase. Due to restrictions on gatherings in place to curb spread of COVID-19, the city is asking the public to weigh in online via it’s Let’s Talk page, which can be found at: https://letstalk.kamloops.ca/budget2021.

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