The Municipality will be making changes to the way water usage is billed in Kemptville, starting October 1. North Grenville Superintendent of Environmental Services, Mike Finley, presented a report to council at the meeting of August 19, outlining the proposed changes to the current billing system. The recommendations are a result of a water and wastewater rate study conducted by Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., completed in March.
As of October, the Municipality will be lowering the base rate for water from $74.59 per month, to $47 per month. The consumptive rate will be raised from $3.89 to $4.01 for 0-12 cubic metres and $5.01 for anything over 12 cubic metres. This means that ratepayers will be charged the based rate plus at least $4.01 for every cubic metre used. This is different from the previous billing structure, where the higher base rate included up to five cubic metres of usage per month.
According to the staff report, a typical residential account should still see an overall decrease of 6.6% on their annual bill, due to the new rate structure. Superintendent Finley did note that larger commercial users may see an average 5% increase on their annual tax bill with this new billing system. “We’re trying to encourage water conservation, while also ensuring that we are sustainable as we move forward,” he said.
Council has also waived the deposit fee of $150 on tenant accounts. This fee was previously charged to tenants when they set up their water billing account, with the deposit being returned to them when the account was closed. “It is an older way to recover costs if a tenant were to leave without paying their bill,” Superintendent Finley said. The waiving of deposit payments will not only relieve tenants financially, it will also decrease the administrative burden to collect, track and release deposit payments. Under the new system arrears will be collected through taxes, giving the landlord the responsibility to ensure the account remains in good standing. “If an owner wants to charge a deposit, that’s their own business,” Superintendent Finley said. “The Municipality is not looking to get into those agreements anymore at this point.” All existing tenant accounts will remain until there is a change in the billing agreement.
Finally, council passed a new bylaw to divide the responsibility for sanitary laterals between the Municipality and property owners. Previously, property owners were responsible for the maintenance of the sanitary lateral from their building to the main line. This put a large financial burden on the property owners should something go wrong with the pipe. “We have run into instances where residents couldn’t do the work,” Superintendent Finley said. Under the new bylaw, the responsibility for the sanitary lateral is shared, with the building owner being responsible for the portion of the lateral on their private property, and the Municipality taking on the responsibility for the portion in the right of way.
This will not only provide cost savings to owners, but will also ensure that the Municipality can control the contractor and quality of work done in the right of way.
Mayor Peckford believes that these changes to the water/sewer system billing and maintenance are positive for the community. “There was lots of back and forth on identifying an option that would be viable for the community, and certainly viable for the infrastructure responsibilities we hold now and into the future,” she said. “I think we’ve landed in a really good place