Monday, November 22
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Have you bought a low-flush toilet, yet? Yeah, me neither. That line item in our household budget just got eaten up by frickin’ car repairs. (I so want to murder that Camry right about now.) Looks like we’d better start squirreling away again for that dual-flush throne because, come January 1, water utility rates are very likely going shoot up to the tune of about nine per cent this year. And they’ll probably be going up by that much again in 2012 and 2013.
That adds up to a pretty steep climb by the end of three years. But, if this gets your dander up — as it clearly has the commenters over at the Leader Post — these rate changes are just being brought forward at Monday’s meeting. The final decision will be made when council gathers on December 20.
So you still have time to express your concerns with your elected rep.
What’s the reason for the call for increases? The report cites several including rising costs of engineering and construction, the unprecedented expansion of the city and aging infrastructure that’s in serious need of an overhaul. And, don’t forget, we have to make some massive investments in our waste-water treatment facilities thanks to some changes in federal regulations.
Speaking of which, while the report talks a lot about all the capital investments we’ll be making with that nine-per-cent per year increase, more needs to be done to cover the infrastructure improvements we need to do over the long term. Here’s a sampler of choice lines from the report:
“While the capital investment proposed for 2011 to 2015 is significant, the long term requirements of the system will continue to put pressure on rate and debt requirements.”
“A significant amount of capital investment has been deferred to 2016 and beyond, to limit the total maximum debt to approximately $173 million.”
“While discussions continue with the federal and provincial governments on the new regulations and financial impact of the wastewater treatment plant expansion to meet those regulations, there is no certainty that such discussions will result in a shared funding agreement. Should no substantial funding be provided by other levels of government, the City will need to re-evaluate the proposed programs and budgets for 2012-2015 for further possible deferrals in capital investments, increased utility rates, alternative funding/delivery mechanism, and/or potential reductions in level of service to utility customers.”
Not sure if any of this will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting but will report back if anything interesting happens.
Of course, there’s lots more on the agenda. Updates to the Winter Maintenance Policy for instance. And appointments of council members to committees. And a water supply contract with the Rural Municipality of Sherwood. And increases to what you’ll be paying for improvements to city infrastructure adjacent to your property. All things that came up in more detail in last week’s column.
Beyond all that, the appointment of citizen members to city committees will be coming forward for ratification.
If you want to read all the names of the lucky appointees, you’ll find the bulk of them in Appendix A of report CR10-131. And seeing as you can’t cut and paste text from city reports, I’m not going to retype them all here. (Because it’s one in the morning and that would be insane.) There are also miscellaneous other committee appointments that are up for consideration (like various business improvement district boards and suchlike) and you can read about them in CR10-128, CR10-129, CR10-130, CR10-132, and CR10-134. All of which you can find here.
Wednesday, November 24
BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS (9 am)
And that’s it for another week at your city hall. For complete reports and agendas check the city’s lovely website.