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AMO asks Centre Wellington to take part in municipal how to guide

by David Meyer

ELORA - While some municipalities are facing huge water and sewer rate increases this year, Centre Wellington is being asked how it managed to avoid such things.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj announced on Dec. 13 the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has asked the township to take part in a guide it is preparing to help municipalities obtain full cost recovery for water and sewer fees and how to better manage their assets.

Ross-Zuj noted the huge increases “are not happening here,” and added the request from AMO shows the township is operating very efficiently.

Public works director Ken Elder said the township began its work back in 2004 and “bit the bullet” on life cycle costs.

The province wants all municipalities to start billing utility users for replacement costs and setting aside reserves for replacement.

Elder said that meant calculating things such as every inch of pipe in the ground, every fitting and every other connection, as well as how long each was expected to last. It was a lot of work, but he noted that now when something goes wrong, there is money in reserves to pay for it.

In other places where that system is not yet in place, a major repair bill means water and sewer users generally face a huge increase in costs to cover the work. And, Elder noted, once rates go up, they do not necessarily come back down when the emergency is covered.

A set percentage of each bill goes into the life cycle and maintenance accounts.

Elder said the AMO study will also include such things as leak detection systems and other issues like conservation measures the township is taking. He said councillors and staff will be interviewed for the report AMO is putting together.

Elder praised a succession of councils that he said have been “proactive” when it comes to the water and sewer systems the township operates.

He added one reason Centre Wellington was asked to take part in the study is its size. He said the township is doing things that only larger centres such as Guelph and the Region of Waterloo have been doing.

“We’ve been able to keep it down,” Elder said of huge cost increases.

On Dec. 22, council set its increases for water for non-metered properties at $51.88 per month.

Metered properties with a three-quarter inch pipe will pay a base administration charge of $6.46 (up 25 cents a month), a monthly meter charge of $2.59 and a total rate of $9.05.

That pipe size is generally used for houses. The fees increase as the size of pipe increases.

Elder said the average home uses about 20 cubic metres of water a month and the base charge for water last year was $6.21 per cubic meter. That climbed to $6.46 this year.

The base sewage rate for homes was $1.91 per cubic metre, and that climbed to $1.96 for next year (about the rate of inflation).

The largest pipes in the township are eight inches for such places as Groves Hospital in Fergus. It pays $209.54 per month for its water meter and the same for sewage meter costs.


December 30, 2011


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