At the Regular Council Meeting on December 5, 2022, Council adopted the 2023 Utility Budget, along with a five-year utility rate model to bring continue Drumheller along a path towards a sustainable utility. This rate model forms the foundation from which utility budgets will be set in the next five years.
The proposed water budget includes a 3.0% increase in user fees. Under this proposal, the water rate will increase from $2.17 per cubic meter in 2022, to $2.26 per cubic meter in 2023. The monthly meter changes will also see a 3.0% increase, which means that residents will see an increase from $17.06 to $17.57 per month on all active accounts.
The proposed 2023 wastewater budget includes a 6.0% increase in user fees. Under this proposal, the wastewater rate will increase from $2.28 per cubic metre to $2.42 per cubic metre in 2023. Similarly, the flat utility rate will see an increase from $20.79 per month to $22.04 per month on all active utility accounts.
Finally, following a thorough review, Administration recommended that, starting in 2023, solid waste and recycling should be moved from the tax-funded budget to the utility-funded budget to provide services that are of equitable rates to all service users. Previously, municipal taxes funded a majority of the solid waste and recycling activities in Drumheller. A portion of expenditures were funded through a monthly recycling fee of $3.00 charged to each utility account.
“Moving solid waste and recycling from property taxes to a utility is consistent with the practices in other municipalities across the province,” says Mauricio Reyes, Director of Corporate and Community Services. “Our research shows that the Town will continue to be the lowest in cost among the nine of its peers with similar population sizes.”
Water and wastewater increases will be reflected on the January 2023 bill, but the solid waste and recycling program will not be added until two months after. Therefore, starting March 2023, the average household in Drumheller will see an approximate additional $8.00 in solid waste charges added to their utility bill for solid waste services.
Scheduled annual fee increases aim to bring the utilities into self-sufficiency to aid in building reserves for the eventual replacement of facilities and infrastructure.