Saanich homeowners can expect to pay about an additional $43 in sewer charges and an additional $26 on their water bill in 2015.
Saanich councillors have approved an increase of 11.9 per cent in the sewer charge, which translates into the average homeowner’s bill increasing to $405 from $362.
A 5.4 per cent increase will see the average Saanich homeowner’s water bill increase to $508 from $482. About 2.1 per cent of the increase is needed to cover an increase in the Capital Regional District bulk water charge, 0.2 per cent for operating costs and 3.1 per cent for infrastructure.
The water increase represents the ninth and final increase in a capital funding program designed to achieve sustainability in maintaining Saanich’s water network, which includes 560 kilometres of pipe, 18 pump stations and five reservoirs, a staff report says. The additional $617,000 brings the municipality’s annual capital commitment to the water utility to $7.17 million, making the water system the first infrastructure system to achieve sustainability, the report says.
Coun. Judy Brownoff said the achievement is something to be proud of. “I think this is a great milestone for Saanich as we set down our path to invest in our infrastructure, which isn’t very sexy to most people.”
Coun. Vic Derman agreed, saying that Saanich had found itself in a situation in which infrastructure was not being properly maintained — a situation that had to be addressed.
“The maintenance and replacement of infrastructure in Saanich had not been properly funded, so we were in a situation where we were either going to hit homeowners with a very large bill all of a sudden — which would have been really quite inappropriate — and we’re also in a position where we could well be facing emergency repairs in the future, which are vastly more expensive than proper maintenance,” Derman said.
“So council embarked on a program of adding to the tax lift anywhere from three-quarters per cent to a per cent a year simply as a catch-up.”
The increase to the sewer charge breaks down as:
• 8.3 per cent (about $30) to cover Capital Regional District debt charges and operating costs related to sewage treatment
• 0.8 per cent ($2.80) Saanich operating costs
• 2.8 per cent ($10.20)
Similar to the water infrastructure increase the $420,000 raised through the increase goes toward infrastructure maintenance and making the system sustainable.
Councillors approved the sewer fees without debate.