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Lethbridge County passes Utility Rate Bylaw

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Sunny South News

During the County of Lethbridge Council Meeting that took place on February 1, Director of Operations for Lethbridge County, Jeremy Wickson, came to Council and presented Bylaw 24-001 – 2024 Utility Rate Bylaw, stating that Administration is proposing a range of increases in the water and wastewater rates for 2024. The amounts, Wickson said, were in coordination with the annual operating budget approved on December 21, 2023. 

Wickson first spoke on water rates and explained that the impact on a residential property on the user base rate for water is $3.76 per month or $45.12 per year, and consumption usage for the average household at 30 cubic meters per month will increase residential costs by $2.40 per month or $28.80 per year. Wickson then addressed the Wastewater Rates and stated that the impact on a residential property on the user base rate for water is $2.76 per month or $33.12 per year. 

Wickson also reported that the Water Charge for Commercial Users has a capital replacement surcharge that had not been increased for several years and was indexed accordingly. Iron Springs Water Association, Wickson added, charged a monthly flat fee and that fee had to be increased to $1,100 based on an estimate of the number of user connections in Iron Springs, which amounts to 26 residences, two commercial operations, a school, and the hamlet residential flat fee, which is $48 for 2024. Coalhurst’s residential garbage pickup for hamlets and rural subdivisions also needed an increase of $0.65 per month or $7.80 per year was budgeted due to contract costs, Wickson said. 

When the floor opened for questions, Council asked about meter fees associated with residential properties, as that was part of the fees, and Wickson stated that the utilities department has encountered meter tampering in the past. The County, Wickson said, buys right now through Accu Flow and are currently involved in doing a larger, full-scale review of all market meter usage because there is new technology coming through and some of the meters that they check will be coming off in the next five to 10 years. Also, Wickson said, Administration is trying to keep things in line with what other municipal partners are doing and the cross charges essentially reflect what the City of Lethbridge is doing in their utility rate fees and they are fairly equal. 

Motions were made to give Bylaw 24-001 – 2024 Utility Rate Bylaw a first and second reading and both motions were carried, passing both readings, but prior to third reading, Council had a question requiring clarification. Council wanted to know if the meter failed and stopped operation and County Operations had to go in and replace it, would the County be charging the residents for that? Wickson said that the only reason that a user would be charged for replacement of a meter in the past is because they tampered with it, but if it just broke down because of something internally, they wouldn’t be charged. 

From an administration standpoint, Wickson said, Administration wishes to go back and clarify because, they have some clear documentation that reflects when and how they will charge because his recommendation was that they do not charge for a failed meter that is defective or that hasn’t been tampered with or damaged in any way. Wickson said Administration could bring that documentation to present at a future meeting and Council established that they had no issue moving third reading as long as that was taken care of. Eventually, a motion was made to give third reading on Bylaw 24-001 – 2024 Utility Rate Bylaw and the motion was carried, and the Bylaw was passed.

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