Guelph-Eramosa pays $544,000 bill

Guelph-Eramosa has paid the City of Guelph $544,713 for sewage treatment, after withholding the payment for almost two years due to concerns about escalating costs for the service.

Public Works Manager Ken Gagnon said the municipalities continue to re-negotiate the decades-old Rockwood sewage treatment agreement, and Guelph-Eramosa staff decided it would be best to pay the 2006 and 2007 bills “as a symbol of good faith.”

In the summer of 2007, the township received a bill of $304,903 for 2006 services, but the 2005 bill was just $189,347. That represented an increase of 61%, while the treatment volume had increased less than 12% – from 329,000 to 367,000 cubic metres.

At that time Gagnon explained the city contends Guelph-Eramosa should be paying more to help cover capital upgrades to the Guelph system.

But Gagnon said “it looks like we’ve been paying all along,” and several councillors questioned the inclusion of any capital costs, claiming that was not part of the original agreement. So council voted to withhold the payment until it had more information.

Gagnon said last week there have been several meetings with staff from both municipalities since that time, and the city has agreed to remove capital costs, as well as GRCA levies, from the township’s annual bills.

That resulted in reducing the total bill for 2006 and 2007 (originally around $602,000) by about $159,000. However, a review of the charges back to 2002 revealed the city also “undercharged” the township by about $102,000.

Gagnon said that resulted in a net decrease of about $57,000 on the township’s bills for 2006 and 2007, and township staff felt it would be best to pay those bills, given the city’s assurance it will negotiate.

“I would prefer if they just  stuck to the original [deal],” councillor Doug Breen said of city officials.