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Mapleton council passed the 2022 water and wastewater rates with a 10.53 per cent increase

A unanimous recorded vote passed the 10.53 rate increase, which translates to a monthly increase of $12.14

MAPLETON - Council passed the township’s water and wastewater fees in 2022 with a 10.53 per cent rate increase this week.

At a special council meeting, a unanimous recorded vote passed the bylaw that directed staff to amend the water and wastewater fees and charges based on the second option staff gave council to choose from.

In a report submitted by the township’s director of finance, John Morrison, staff has recently learned that a 2021 capital project, the sludge removal from the lagoons, will not cost its budgeted $500,000. Due to this, there is a savings of $400,000 which has been factored back into the rates. 

As such, township staff gave council two options on what they could do with the water and wastewater rates: 

Option 1 would reflect the sludge removal savings and build immediate financial flexibility into the rates. The increase in the rates would be 20.24 per cent, which translates to a monthly increase of $23.34.

Meanwhile, option 2 defers the transfer of a $2.1 million loan from the capital reserves to the environment services discretionary reserve fund by one year. This means that the rates would not be burdened by the carrying cost of this loan until 2023. The yearly debt charges are $131,460 per year. 

Option 2 would have an increase in the rates of 10.53 per cent, which translates to a monthly increase of $12.14.

The initial option provided to council in December was a 22.1 per cent increase in the rates for 2022. The impact for the average residential rate payer would have been a monthly increase of $25.48. 

Council deliberated the options at the meeting with Coun. Paul Douglas initiated the conversation by asking Morrison about option two: “if nothing changes with the funds and there are no new grants for projects, are we looking at a re-evaluation in the rates in 2023 to make up for the deferral?” 

Morrison informed council that the rates would need to increase at least 12 per cent next year in order to make up for the 20 per cent increase that is in option one. 

“You’re making a decision and buying yourself some time to figure out if there are other funding sources,” said Morrison. 

The water and wastewater rates are being driven upwards by debt charges required to finance the higher-than-expected costs to build a water tower in Drayton.

Coun. Dennis Craven recommended going with a 15 per cent increase, as it is right in the middle of the proposed increases. He believed that going with a 22 per cent would be the easy way to go, so taxpayers do not have to worry about the increase at a later time. 

However, he also noted that it's been a tough year for people due to COVID-19 to give the taxpayers as much of a break as council can. So, Craven did not go forward with making a motion regarding his proposed 15 per cent increase. 

“It’s been a tough go, council. I appreciate the discussions we’ve had since November. I know how hard it has been for all of us,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.