Wa­ter taxes soar

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - BY STEVEN WARBURTON News Staff

Sev­eral South Glen­garry res­i­dents will see sub­stan­tial in­creases in their wa­ter bills af­ter mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil voted to in­crease rates at its last meet­ing.

In Glen Wal­ter, bills will rise from $804 per year to $1,077.61 in 2018. In 2019, it’s ex­pected to rise to $2,332.

Lan­caster res­i­dents, cur­rently pay­ing $804 for their wa­ter and sewer ser­vices, will see their bills rise to $1,105 this year and to $1,265 in 2019. Users in Green Val­ley and Kennedy Red­wood will also see in­creases, though nowhere near as ex­treme. In Green Val­ley, sewer users will see their fees jump from $435 to $505 in 2018 and $575 the next year. There will be fur­ther two per cent in­creases in 2020 and 2021. For Kennedy Red­wood wa­ter users, the fee will jump from $1,016 to $1,077 this year and $1,138 in 2019. There will be fur­ther two per cent in­creases in 2020 and 2021.

Mayor Ian McLeod says that the hikes are nec­es­sary be­cause the town­ship’s 25-year-old wa­ter sys­tem is in need of an up­grade. In­fra­struc­ture needs to be re­placed, he adds, not­ing that fund­ing comes from sys­tem users, not the pro­vin­cial or fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

4-1 vote

Not ev­ery­one on coun­cil was in favour of the in­creases.

Call­ing for a recorded vote, Coun­cil­lor Trevor Bougie was adamant that the higher rates be phased in. He sug­gested a $10 in­crease per billing pe­riod plus a two per cent in­crease for Glen Wal­ter and Lan­caster, call­ing the ini­tial to­tals “un­rea­son­able.”

But Coun­cil­lor Lyle War­den dis­agreed, say­ing that “even­tu­ally (coun­cil) will have to man up and ask res­i­dents to pay their share.” He said that the town­ship hasn’t in­creased its rates for the past eight years and that not in­creas­ing them now will hurt the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the long run.

At first, Deputy-Mayor Frank Prevost said a $300 in­crease in one year is a lot to han­dle but he even­tu­ally sided with Mr. War­den and his other col­leagues.

Coun­cil ap­proved the in­creases by a vote of 4-1 with Mr. Bougie be­ing the lone dis­senter.

Coun­cil­lor Bill McKen­zie noted this isn’t the first time coun­cil has ap­proved a ma­jor rate in­crease. He said that the last time, the rates were in­creased by 97 per cent, adding that Glen Wal­ter’s pro­jected in­crease of 34 per cent is “rea­son­able.”

Ac­cord­ing to town­ship fig­ures, Glen Wal­ter’s wa­ter and sewer sys­tem has a pro­jected fu­ture an­nual ex­pense of $4.5 mil­lion. Right now, its an­nual op­er­at­ing ex­penses are $385,000. Di­vide that by the com­mu­nity’s 358 con­nec­tions and it comes out to $1,075 per year. When you fac­tor the $4.5 mil­lion in there and pay that off over 10 years, it comes to $2,332 per user per year.

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