Drumheller finances continue the track to self-sustainability – a plan put into place and action in 2017 to ensure that long-term infrastructure investments are maintained for regulatory compliance. It is an imperative component of utility budget to put money aside each year to deal with expansions, infrastructure and requirements due to new environmental regulations.
At the Regular Council Meeting on December 19, the 2023 Utility Rate Bylaw 22.22 was passed as presented, with a 3.0% increase on water and 6.0% increase on wastewater.
“The aforementioned plan was reviewed in 2022,” states Tony Lacher, “and it was determined that a decrease in water rates and an increase in wastewater rates was required to maintain a path towards a sustainable utility.”
Ratepayers will see the cubic metre charge for water increase by $0.09, from $2.17 to $2.26 per cubic metre. Similarly, the average residential wastewater user will see an increase of $0.14, from $2.28 to $2.42 in monthly metre charges. For the average user, this equates to the cost of a cup of coffee per month in additional charges.
Additionally, starting in 2023, solid waste and recycling will be added to the utility-funded budget. This practice is consistent with most other municipalities across the province and provides services that are of equitable rates to all service users. Water and wastewater increases will be reflected on January 2023 bills, but the solid waste and recycling charge will not be added until two months after. These costs were previously part of the property tax supported budget and are removed in 2023.
The changes in water and wastewater are in accordance with recommended timelines required to reach financial sustainability in those utilities.