Mission council is reconsidering a voluntary water metering program which was approved in August.
The decision was to be ratified Monday night at the last council meeting, but instead, local politicians voted unanimously to rescind the earlier decision after former councillor John Pearson raised questions about whether current metered rates are correct.
“The [voluntary water metering program] is not viable … and it was pretty obvious it would doom the program to failure,” explained Coun. Jeff Jewell.
Council also chose to defer a decision to increase the current water metered rates, as proposed by staff, until the issue is re-examined.
There are about 260 residences on water meters and the district has a year’s worth of data on close to 200. After analyzing the numbers, staff have determined metered customers are paying a lower rate than those on a flat rate.
“If everyone was metered and that rate applied, it would be insufficient to operate the system,” explained Rick Bomhof, Mission’s director of engineering and public works.
Flat rate users are charged $465.48 for water and $354 for sewer each year.
Currently, metered customers pay a meter rental rate of $12.76 a month, plus $1.19 for every cubic metre of water used. According to the data collected, a household, on average, uses 234 cubic metres of water a year at a cost of $191.22. The new structure would introduce a flat rate of $276 a year, plus $0.73 for every cubic metre of water used. For the average home, that would be an increase of $155.60 per year.
Sewer rates are calculated at 77 per cent of the water rate. Currently the average homeowner pays $224.24 a year, and the proposed rate would see that number increase to $344.05.
The fixed rate is intended to provide stability in funding and it is attributable to the fixed costs of operating the utilities. The amount of water consumed varies from each home and the volume rate provides incentives for residents to conserve water.
Jewell predicts there will be another staff report and recommendation for the voluntary water metering program soon.
At that time, there will be a public consultation and citizen engagement process, said Jewell.