Residents will be facing a rise in the price they pay for water, just how much is yet to be determined.
The Highway 12/21 Regional Water Commission held a meeting Nov. 2 to consider its 2019 draft budget and the cost of a cubic metre of water. That cost will now rise to $3 per cubic metre, up 12 cents.
Bashaw’s deputy mayor Rosella Peterman was at the meeting and she was relieved it wasn’t higher.
“It’s certainly not pretty and really hard to swallow, though it is lower than what every community thought it might have been,” she stated in an interview as Mayor Penny Shantz couldn’t make the commission meeting.
“For council, it is frustrating as well, wondering how we will now deal with this. It is what it is and can we continue to subsidize water rates as we have this past year or will we need to deal with it in another way?”
The latest budget recommendation includes setting aside $60,000 for repair and maintenance reserves, plus spending more on debenture payments and a one-third jump in electricity costs for maintaining pipeline equipment in the cold.
Peterman understands the need for maintenance reserves, but by the same token, sees a problem on the horizon.
“It was said the longer the line, the more water that would be sold, which meant it would get cheaper. However, with a longer line, it’s likely to have more repairs,” she added.
Currently, Bashaw users are paying $2.64 per cubic metre with the town subsidizing 24 cents by using excess water revenue made the previous year.
At its meeting the night before, council wasn’t pleased with the proposed two cent rate increase with Coun. Rob McDonald being the most vocal.
“It’s a catch 22. They ask for whatever they want, spend it however they want and there is nothing we can even say about it,” stated McDonald, who was on council at the time the town signed on as a commission member.
“I don’t think that ($60,000) is going to be there when we need to use it, not because I believe they will be dishonest. I just think its because they never had to be responsible or answer to anyone, because the members are there to make decisions for the commission. They answer to no one and the province, figuratively, had a gun to our head to sign on.”
He added council at the time signed up due to the threat of having future provincial funding for infrastructure improvements go away, not because of any threat to the water supply.
Member municipalities will have until the next commission meeting on Dec. 7 to review and request any changes before the budget is finalized.
Meanwhile, Bashaw town council will likely debate the subject at its next meeting on Nov. 15.