Committee gives increased water fees green light

  • Feb. 17, 2011 6:00 p.m.

richard rolke

Morning Star Staff

Final details on water rate increases have been worked out in Greater Vernon.

On Thursday, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee signed off on the 2011 fee schedule, which must now be approved by the North Okanagan Regional District board.

“This recognizes the cost of water and the cost of running the system,” said Wayne Lippert, GVAC chairperson.

The residential base fee will go from $50.17 to $66.20 annually. That will see the average residential bill go from $480.58 to $579.70, or 20 per cent, a year.

Lippert said the higher base rate is required to ensure adequate income to cover operating costs, which are 80 per cent fixed.

Beyond that, there are four tiers of levies based on consumption.

There will continue to be no additional charge for low users.

“We’re giving up to 10 cubic metres (per household) away to customers,” said director Mike Macnabb.

“It doesn’t penalize customers who don’t use a lot.”

The second tier (10 to 40 cubic metres) will go from 92 to 78 cents per cubic metre, while the third tier (40 to 80 cubic metres) will remain at 92 cents per cubic metre.

The final tier (more than 80 cubic metres) will climb from 92 cents to $1.24 per cubic metre. That’s equivalent to 21,133 U.S. gallons of water being used.

“That’s a huge amount of water. It would fill a room,” said Macnabb.

“There should be a clear indication that if you’re going to use a lot of water, it’s going to cost you a lot of money.”

The base fee for commercial businesses is also climbing 20 per cent to $66.20. But director Gyula Kiss objected to the consumption fee remaining at 92 cents per cubic metre.

“Commercial is not getting an increase for the user fee portion,” he said.

However, his attempt to change the policy was shot down by the rest of his colleagues.

“It (higher fee) could have a negative impact on jobs,” said director Jim Garlick of the current economic conditions in the region.

Agriculture rates will increase by five per cent in 2011 while fees for vacant lots will go from $31.77 to $66.20 per quarter.