Warfield landlord says hike in sewer rate will put him out of business

A Warfield landlord says he’ll be out of business if council passes a new sewer rate for multi-unit apartments in 2017.

A Warfield landlord says he'll be out of business in three years if the village goes through with proposed hikes to sewer rates.

A Warfield landlord says he’ll be out of business in three years if council passes a new sewer rate for multi-unit apartments in 2017.

John Lattanzio has been a shareholder of Warfield Apartments since 1979 and gained full ownership eight years ago. But his 41-unit estate is in jeopardy if the village moves ahead with a ratepayer increase that Lattanzio says far exceeds allowable rent increases.

“We are legislated to what we can raise the rent,” he explained. “I can only raise the rent 3.7 per cent in 2017 I cannot raise any more than $20 per unit, and that barely covers just the sewer cost for 2017.”

Council is proposing that each unit pay what a residential homeowner would be billed, Lattanzio said.

“They think you have a toilet, sink and a tub so you make the same amount of sewer as a residential house,” he added.”That’s what they think, but I can prove otherwise.”

Lattanzio and other Warfield landlords received notification in late November, informing them of impending changes in 2016 the annual sewer rate was $68.21 per unit, next year the bill will more than double to $183.14 per unit.

But it doesn’t stop there, he says rates on his 41 units will keep increasing exponentially over the next three years.

“My first reaction when I got the letter was, ‘I will not be in business by 2019,’” Lattanzio told the Trail Times. “In 2016 I paid close to $3,200. So what we are looking at, what they are proposing by 2019, is that I would be paying $16,000 which is a 440 per cent increase on sewer alone,” he continued. “So I’ve put everything together and basically, by 2019, between water and sewer I’ll be paying more than North Vancouver or places like Chilliwack, and we live in the small village of Warfield. It is insane.”

The landlord has met with Mayor Ted Pahl and individual members of council after receipt of the village’s letter, but Lattanzio is taking it one step further.

Tonight (Thursday) he is addressing all the politicians during the regular council meeting, 7 p.m. at the village municipal office.

And he’s coming armed with a well planned presentation as well as letters of support from other landlords, who do not live locally, that own three of the village’s six and nine-unit complexes.

“I have their full support and letters,” said Lattanzio.

The Trail Times reached out Mayor Pahl by telephone but there was no reply by press time.

The intent to increase annual sewer fees by $114.93 per unit was proposed during Oct. 25 council. Meeting minutes read, “Moved by Councillor Rakuson, Seconded by Councillor Parkinson, that the multi-residential units yearly sewer fees be increased from $68.21 to $ 183.14 (an increase of $114.93) for the Fiscal Year 2017, and THAT all Landlords be notified by letter immediately.”

That does not tell the whole story, Lattanzio pointed out.

“The letter I received is signed by the mayor, stating that there’s changes coming up for the sewer rates in 2017, 2018, and 2019,” he clarified. “If I have to raise the rent again in 2018, then I am going to be in the minus because they are proposing $114.93 increase again in 2018, then again in 2019.”

The wording amended in the Nov. 16 agenda package reads, “the multi-residential units yearly sewer fees be increased by $114.93 per year for the next three years (2017,2018 and 2019 inclusive) to bring the multi-residential unit rate to the same as the single residential rate plus any increases to the single residential rate during this three-year period and THAT all landlords be notified by letter immediately.”

Jackie Patridge, Warfield’s corporate officer, clarified that council has not yet passed the sewer bylaw.

“What was passed was a motion to increase the sewer rates for multi residential buildings (such as) apartment buildings,” she said. “This increase to the sewer rate will be applied in the bylaw which will be read next year, probably in April.”

Notably, Warfield sewer fees are listed on the Property Tax notice, not the utility bill in January.

“This increase would bring the multi-residential rate (each apartment) in line with the residential rate. A letter from the mayor was sent to the owners of the

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