MORRISBURG – Industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings in South Dundas will see a major change to their water rates by Fri., Sept. 1.

South Dundas council approved a change to the water rate structure at Tues., June 20’s meeting, which will charge industrial, commercial, and institutional accounts by meter size.

Staff tabled the numbers in a proposal that would see an additional $35,389 in revenue for the municipality for a full year of the new rate structure.

However, this was based on varying rates for meters between 5/8 of an inch to four inches. According to the report, a three-inch meter would see an increase of 1,000 per cent (or an extra $4,000 per year) and a four-inch meter would see a 1,300 per cent increase (or upwards of $5,000 extra per year).

Council members were “uncomfortable” charging such a hefty increase to the water bills, and instead decided to freeze the rates at the two-inch mark. Any meters measured higher than two-inches will still pay the two-inch rate, which is an increase of about $1,200 per year.

Although still a large increase, Councillor Archie Mellan said the municipality “needed to bite the bullet,” as many of these buildings had only been paying about $400 per year – well below the average of other neighbouring municipalities.

According to the report, the majority of neighbouring municipalities had already adopted a by-meter-size rate, with South Dundas lagging behind with an equal rate.

Currently, the municipality charges 17 one-inch meters, 12 inch-and-a-half meters, 17 two-inch meters, five three-inch meters, and three four-inch meters.

Acting deputy treasurer Shawn Mason noted that once the rate becomes established, industrial, commercial, and institutional accounts will have the opportunity to reduce their service to the buildings in order to reduce the meter size, if possible.

The original report had predicted an increase of about $35,000 per year for revenue, but with the two-inch meter rate freeze, it would only generate about $18,500 for the year – nearly a 12-month loss of revenue than predicted by staff.

The bylaw for the water rates are expected back at the next meeting.

Wastewater amalgamation?

Council also tabled a motion for staff to investigate what the impact would be to amalgamate the two wastewater rates in Morrisburg and Iroquois for 2018.

Currently, Morrisburg pays the rate at 75 per cent, and Iroquois at 100 per cent.

Mason recommended that the rates stay status quo, and that if council wanted to change the structure, it would be a “political decision” and a “major philosophy shift.”

The account distribution for Iroquois has 709 users, while Morrisburg has 1,297 users.

Councillor Bill Ewing advocated for the amalgamation, saying it should be “one municipality, one rate.”

Mayor Evonne Delegarde noted that if council wanted to amalgamate the two rates, the issue would need to be brought to a public session.

“It would be difficult because the decision would not be based on number of users – it would be based on principle,” said Delegarde. “Morrisburg would have to be subsidized, or Iroquois [rates] would have to come down.”

Deputy-Mayor Jim Locke, and Councillors Ewing and Marc St. Pierre voted in favour of staff investigating amalgamation, while Delegarde and Mellan were opposed.

“That’s not to say my decision won’t change once I see the numbers,” added St. Pierre. “I’m more curious about the impact.”