TOWN COUNCIL TENTATIVELY APPROVES SLIGHT USER FEE INCREASES FOR GARBAGE, WATER, SEWER AND LANDFILL FEES
Posted on 14 March 2013 by Keith Lacey
Members of Town of Osoyoos council have tentatively approved marginal increases in water, sewer and garbage and recycling fees for 2013.
These fees are expected to be adopted on top of the proposed 1.83 per cent property tax hike that has been tentatively approved by council and is expected to be adopted and finalized during the next meeting of council on March 18.
Members of town council are expected to officially adopt and approve the 2013 operational budget and five-year capital plan during its regular meeting next Monday afternoon.
Unless anything changes in the next few days, the budget approved by council will include a 1.83 per cent property tax increase.
This would mean an increase of roughly $60 per year on a single family dwelling assessed at roughly $370,000.
More than half of that increase, one per cent, will be used to establish a new reserve fund to help pay the future costs of policing in town.
Once the town officially exceeds 5,000 in population, which is expected during the next national census in 2016, the town will be responsible for paying 70 per cent of policing costs, instead of the current 30 per cent.
This is expected to cost local taxpayers between $500,000 and $700,000 annually.
Highlighted user fee increases that received first, second and third reading from councillors include:
• Garbage and recycling fees increasing by $10 to $119 in 2013. This increase is to account for the transportation consumer price index increase to the town’s garbage and recycling contract and tipping fee increases.
• Tipping fees proposed for the Town of Osoyoos Sanitary Landfill in 2013 to increase from $65 per tonne to $80.
• Sewer rates will increase by $7.13 annually for a single family residence to $223 or 3.3 per cent. This will increase town revenues by $38,800 to be used on several major capital projects tentatively approved by council.
• Water rates are proposed to increase by $1 a month for a single family residence to $297 or a 4.21 per cent increase. This will raise an additional $53,000 in revenues and allow the town to increase its reserve fund to assist with funding numerous water projects detailed in the town’s five-year plan.
• Water district has proposed increasing rates by $1 a month for a single family residence to $346. This will add $16,700 in revenues to assist with numerous water projects in the town’s five-year capital plan.
• Museum parcel tax. The museum referendum passed in 2011, which affects property owners in the town and Area A of the Regional District, means ratepayers will begin paying a parcel tax for the rest taken out by the RDOS for the museum property purchase. The annual payment is just over $92,000. The parcel tax will not exceed $20.96 per year as detailed in the referendum.
Council has also approved spending an extra $30,000 on increased bylaw enforcement to allow for additional hiring of RCMP officers and extending hours for bylaw officers, particularly in town parks and beaches. The parks budget went up by $43,000 with maintenance and wages accounting for $11,000 and $33,000 for washroom maintenance.
Mayor Stu Wells said this user fee increases will allow the town to work on numerous infrastructure projects, particularly major water and sewer upgrades, throughout 2013.
Coun. Mike Plante urged members of the public to visit the town’s website to see just how many infrastructure projects are on the books once the budget is passed.
Wells said he will be voting against future increases in landfill tipping fees as the Osoyoos landfill actually makes money, which isn’t the case in most other municipalities.
“I think it (increases) should stop because our landfill operates in the black,” he said.
“It comes to a point where going there becomes very unfriendly. Sooner or later we’re going to have a point where there are no more increases.”
Jim Zakall, the town’s director of finances, said landfill tipping fees in Osoyoos remain among the lowest in the South Okanagan and profits from the landfill are spent on other capital improvement projects in town.