December not only marks the holiday season, but it’s also the month when municipalities traditionally review and generally increase its utility rates for the new year.
Trail council approved the city’s new user rates during Monday’s governance meeting, agreeing to raise the utility fees by about two per cent.
What that means for the average homeowner, is a bill for $700.90 or $13.20 more than last year, for all three services – garbage pickup, water and sewer.
If Trail homeowners choose to pay the full amount before the Feb. 28 discount date, residents could knock about $52 off the final tally.
The meeting marked the first gathering of Trail’s new council since the Nov. 15 election, which prompted some discussion regarding the current utility service level and how the city invoices taxpayers.
While total tonnage from Trail garbage pickup has remained quite consistent, with a slight downward trend into what is going into the landfill, talks ensued about a bag-and-tag system and future organic waste diversion.
“Council indicated they most likely will want to review this once there is a program in place for organic diversion,” explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer. “It is understood that a considerable amount of waste and associated weight is due to the disposal of food waste given the lack of a regional composting facility,” he noted. “Moving to a different method of collecting fees was not deemed to be a priority at this time.”
Water was also on the list of topics after the city’s most recent $7,500 expense to repair a leaking valve on the main waterline coming off the Victoria Street Bridge. That water system services all of West Trail, explained Perehudoff, which means if there were a major break in the line, water supply to those homes could be in jeopardy.
The need to have a second line that services West Trail has been on the books for many years. With the new pipe bridge now in the works, the city will construct a second line to improve overall water quality to those homes, he added.
Another utility upgrade regional sewer partners agreed to this year, was the construction of a new sewer line on the aerial pipe bridge.
Prior to the bridge’s funding agreement, a five-year cost apportionment dispute with Rossland was settled which reduced the city’s overall sewer contribution into the regional service by about six per cent.
Additionally, the city could see future regional sewer fees lessen after monitoring meters, which provide actual effluent flow, were installed between the cities earlier this year.
“They’ve installed flow meters along the line so they can determine exactly how much effluent each community is contributing,” Perehudoff explained to Trail council. “Through that, one year of effluent contribution will be measured starting in 2015. In 2016, apportionment will be adjusted accordingly.”
The incentive to reduce the amount of water infiltration, such as storm drainage, going into the sewer is an ongoing Trail public works matter that could result in decreased service costs down the road.
“The city is making fixes to I & I (inflow and infiltration) into the sanitary sewer lines as they come up,” Perehudoff said. “Which can effectively reduce effluent going into the sewer treatment plant.”