Central Albertans will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for utilities starting on March 1.
Red Deer city council voted 7-1 to approve the Utility Bylaw that sets the 2015 rates for residents and South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Commission customers.
City residents will see on average a 1.7 per cent increase or $1.65 more on the monthly bill for garbage, wastewater, recycling and yard waste services.
But it will be the residents in Innisfail, Bowden, Olds, Mountain View and Red Deer County that will feel the bigger pinch.
The six communities are on a sewer line that connects to Red Deer. A utilities rate review revealed that the six municipalities have been undercharged for costs associated with the treatment plant for several years.
Residents will now pay 80 cents per cubic metre for treatment as part of a phasing in plan that will tack on about 10 cents the following year. The new rates will be phased in over three to five years.
Coun. Paul Harris voted against the bylaw because he thought it was not fair to Red Deer residents.
Harris said the region hasn’t been paying its share for the last few years as it was shown in the review.
“Now we need to charge them what we should be charging them starting tomorrow not trying to phase it in over the next four to five years,” said Harris. “It’s just that simple.”
Mayor Tara Veer said the transition plan will protect against rate shock. She said council landed on a plan that is both fair and defensible before the commission.
Communities have hired consultants to review the city’s rate models to better understand where the numbers are coming from.
The rates for all users will come into effect on March 1.
Coun. Buck Buchanan was absent for personal reasons.
In other council news:
lRed Deer’s waste management facility will continue to handle waste from the Town of Blackfalds.
Council authorized city manager Craig Curtis will enter into an agreement with the town for a period of up to four years.
The city began collecting the waste in 2011 as a temporary measure while the planned Plasco facility was expected to be constructed.
Since that time the Central Waste Management Commission ended its affiliation with Plasco.
Council heard accepting the waste has had little operational impact on the city.
— The city’s pre-eminent project to convert the former civic yards into a thriving mixed-use district is moving along.
Council gave first reading of a borrowing bylaw for $24.5 million for the Riverlands Project. The money will be used for on-site development, service grade and remediation. The site consists of 25 acres of city-owned land.
— Council gave first reading to an Electricity Utility Bylaw that will see the average resident who uses 600 kwh/month will pay $2.85 more each month. The increase reflects electric, light and power distribution tariff rates for 2015.
The bylaw will come back to council for second and third reading on Feb.23.