Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:18

Swift Current water/sewer rates increase on New Year’s Day

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The City of Swift Current plans to increase the combined water and sewer rates with two per cent on Jan. 1.

Councillors approved a notice of motion at a regular council meeting on Nov. 20 to advise the public of their intention to amend the combined water and sewer rates.
For future years, starting in Jan. 1, 2019, there will also be an annual increase of two per cent in the combined water and sewer rates. This perpetual increase will be implemented every year on New Year’s Day until council approves an amendment to this water and sewer rate structure.
Kari Cobler, the City’s acting general manager of corporate services, presented a report to council.
She noted that the municipal utilities are legally required to fund themselves through the generation of revenue to cover operational costs as well as any capital investments.
“The City of Swift Current’s municipal property taxes must not be used to fund any of the municipal utilities, which include the electrical utility, the solid waste utility, and the combined water and sewer utility,” she said.
The previous rate adjustment for the combined water and sewer utility took place in 2013, when council approved an annual rate increase for a five-year period. There was an annual rate increase of six per cent until 2016 and for 2017 the increase was four per cent.
“Our current rate for 2017 would not be adequate to meet the operational cost and the capital investments that are required in 2018 and beyond,” she said. “So when we looked at the 2018 municipal budget, in the preparation of that document, we determined that a two per cent increase would generate sufficient revenue to cover the cost that will be incurred throughout the 2018 year.”
The City also considered the need for future rate increases to ensure sufficient funds to operate the water and sewer utility.
“When we looked further into the future and we completed our review, we've estimated that an additional annual two per cent increase would be enough to cover those operational costs, as well as any capital investments in infrastructure,” she said.
This annual rate increase of two per cent will remain in place until a future review of the rate structure.
“If at some point in the future the obligations of the utility do change, a further report would be brought for council’s consideration to amend the rate structure, if need be,” she mentioned.
If the water and sewer utility generates any surplus, the funds will remain within that utility.
“It is not filtered to any of the other utilities that we have or it doesn’t go into the general operations of the City,” she said. “It remains within the water and sewer utility itself and could be used at some point in the future.”
Previous rate increases were used to fund infrastructure upgrades. There was a water and sewer rate adjustment in 2010 to finance the expansion of the water treatment plant. The rate adjustments during the 2013-17 period also funded infrastructure improvements, including some software upgrades and the current upgrades to the south hill reservoir.
“So those were all reflected in our rate structure that was brought forth in 2013 and have been fully funded through those rate increases over those past five years,” Cobler said.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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