MORRISBURG – Could South Dundas see the establishment of a separate board for its water and sewer system?
That was the suggestion put forward by Mayor Steven Byvelds Thurs., Jan. 3.
As it stands, the water and sewage rates are determined by the municipality but depending on where you live, your rates can be higher or lower or not effect you at all.
Byvelds motivation is both to clean up the file and also to have people who are directly impacted by the system and the rates have a say in the decision making process.
On the current council, two members are ratepayers.
“We don’t get a direct impact for rates. I don’t pay for water. I don’t get the feel of what it’s like to pay for that service so I’m making a judgement on that service based on information and numbers. That’s it,” said Byvelds. “It’s always been a concept in my mind. It cleans that whole thing up. I realize though that it may not be easy to do and in the end it may not be worth doing.”
CAO Shannon Geraghty suggested a board could be comprised of members of the public, a councillor and some staff to give a balanced approach.
“Will it provide more useful information to the users and to you as a council and an administration? I guess that’s the key thing to consider,” suggested auditor James Pollock from CKDM LLP.
Byvelds added that an increase in rates may be easier for a board, which also happens to be users, to justify rather than a council which has no first hand experience.
“For those who have never been at a council table where you want to increase the water rates, be ready for the crack. It is not easy to do. Just looking at the numbers here, they suggest that we’re not charging enough yet because reserves are going down,” he said. “If councillor Mellan wants to charge 35 per cent, it’s easy for him to say because he’s not on the system. If there’s a board there that has system users on it and they have to be accountable for what they’re doing, it makes a bit of a difference.”
Deputy-Mayor Kirsten Gardner believed the idea had some merit.
“I absolutely like the idea of having that further discussion as well as educating the folks around the table as to why it is what it is,” she said.