Sicamous residents will see no break on their water billing in the new year.
When given the option to amend the district’s water schedule by pushing ahead by a year, a scheduled, 10-per cent increase for metered accounts (effective July 1, 2012), as well as unmetered accounts – to be reflected on the Jan. 2013 billing, or proceeding with the increases as planed, council chose the latter.
District financial services director Ruth Walper, explained the options were brought forward in response to a request by council to see what could be done for residents whose water service was severely impacted by the June 23 debris flow in Two Mile Creek, and subsequent flooding from Mara and Shuswap lakes.
“Right now, we’re showing $150,000 was paid out for potable water, and that funding, if it isn’t covered, will come from the water fund eventually. So that would mean there’s additional costs involved over and above what we normally experience,” Walper explained, adding that could be offset by surpluses. But she then went on to explain, the district could see revenue losses in 2013 of up to $60,000 as a result of residents taking up water metering.
“We were hoping that would be offset by the 10 per cent increase, said Walper. “Of course, that depends on how quickly people convert to the metered accounts.”
Mayor Darrell Trouton brought forward the motion to keep the water fee schedule as is. He said there is still uncertainty as to whether or not the district’s expense of bringing in potable water for flood victims will be covered by the province. He also said the district will require the funding for a proposed water treatment facility, estimated to cost $4.5 million.
“We’re going to need these reserves to move forward,” said Trouton. “We also, through our public works, did a fabulous job of maintaining and having water to the areas for washing clothes, fire safety, you name it. So, I have a hard time bringing any other option forward.”
Coun. Terry Rysz concurred, stating the public recognizes the need to improve water in Sicamous.
“So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t seem like anybody is that concerned about the fact that they’ve got to dig into their pockets a wee bit more to support that,” said Rysz.
Council unanimously supported the mayor’s motion, though Coun. Fred Busch warned council to be prepared for negative feedback.