(Kim Siever photo/Wikimedia)

Increases recommended for Penticton utility rates

Review suggests water and sewer rates to rise for next three years

A review of Penticton’s utility rates recommends electrical rates should stay at present levels, but treated water, agricultural water and sewer rates should increase for the next three years, beginning in 2020.

The review of rates recommended a zero per cent increase in electrical rates.

An increase of 0.6 per cent was recommended for treated water rates, and a four per cent increase was suggested for agricultural water rates.

A 9.4 per cent increase in sewer rates was suggested.

These recommendations were made to ensure the utilities receive the funding needed while balancing concerns of affordability for customers.

“We have taken steps in recent years to properly fund our electrical and water utilities which allows us to hold the rates for the foreseeable future,” said Mitch Moroziuk, general manager of infrastructure.

“The sewer utility is currently underfunded and the recommended changes to those rates will help ensure this service receives the investment it needs.”

The review also compared Penticton’s utility bills with seven other communities in the area.

READ ALSO: Penticton residents invited to look ahead at utility rates

One of the biggest areas of concern for residential customers was an early proposal to increase sewer rates by 16.5 per cent for the next two years to make up the funding requirements needed for projects such as replacing the compost facility at the landfill.

After hearing from residents and with the input of a citizen task force, this proposal was adjusted to a 9.4 per cent increase for three years, to reduce the impact to residents.

“Penticton has been very upfront about the costs of maintaining civic infrastructure and proactive in addressing the funding requirements,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.

“Reviews like this help us determine if we are on track with the responsibility of keeping up these services while not forgetting about the needs of residents. I want to thank the citizens who participated in this important process and especially the five-member task force who represented the interests of customers.”

The recommendations were shared with council at the July 16 meeting and will be included in the annual update to the Fees and Charges Bylaw that takes place each fall.

READ ALSO: Minimal rate increase for Penticton utilities

If council approves the recommendations, residents can expect a $10 per month total increase in their combined utility bills over a three-year period with the average household increasing from $202 per month in 2019 to $212 per month in 2022.

Residents are encouraged to read the Council Report at www.penticton.ca for the complete findings from the review including the impacts for commercial, industrial and agricultural customers.

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