The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) voted in favour of an amendment to increase Lac la Hache water user fees more gradually.
The increase in rates is due to the rate not having been increased since 2009 and operating costs now exceeding revenues.
“The increased cost of hydro, the increased cost of labour, it just continues to go up, right? So we had to try and get it in line,” says area G director Al Richmond. They had been able to absorb the increased costs but that’s no longer the case, he says.
“We originally considered doing it over two years but given the economic situation, I wanted to shift it over three.”
The adjusted increase will mean an added cost of $1.64 per month in 2020 (12 per cent), $1.83 in 2021 (12 per cent) and $1.72 in 2022 (10 per cent).
The original plan called for a 17.5 per cent increase in 2020 ($2.42 per month), 15 per cent in 2021 and three per cent in 2022.
Richmond says percentages are just awful to deal with because it’s such a low-cost item.
“If you don’t have a high-cost item, a percentage is not a great deal of money.”
They’ll have to access a bit of reserve money to top up costs in the meantime, says Richmond.
“To accommodate the deferral of revenue to 2022, a short-term loan from reserves has been budgeted in 2020 to shore up the services operating surplus. The loan will be repaid from operations over the next five years,” according to the agenda summary.
The change to spread the increase over three years instead of two, see residents save $9.30 in 2020 and $16.30 in 2021.
“Once surplus is restored, inflationary increases are planned in future years to avoid having to make large increases that result from long periods of a static user fee,” according to the agenda summary.
He says rate increases aren’t great at any time but they’re just trying to minimize the monthly impact as best as they could.
In February, the CRD applied for $535,000 from the Investing in Canadian Infrastructure grant program for a new well due to consistent poor water quality from one of the two wells in Lac la Hache.
“We haven’t heard back on that one yet,” he says. “Everything’s bogged down with the COVID stuff. I could see some of these other grants maybe not going ahead this year.”