Changes to 2020 utility rate structure will enhance equity
Council has approved a number of long-term proposed changes to the 2020 utility rates structure, specifically to water utilities, that will create a more equitable system for the Okotoks community.
“These changes will create a more fair and equitable rate structure that is truly a consumption-based, user-pay model for water,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “The majority of residential and commercial customers will remain largely unaffected, while multi-family complexes will see annual savings.”
The changes were recommended after a comprehensive review of the Town’s utility services for water, sewer, and waste identified areas for improvement, and will bring the Town’s utility rate structure in line with industry best practices across North America. They include:
- Adjusting water and wastewater based fees on meter size and introducing a base fee based on meter size for irrigation accounts,
- Adjusting the water tier thresholds based on usage with Tier 1 at 0-23 cubic metres (m3), Tier 2 at 23.01-46 m3 and Tier 3 being any water use above 46 m3;
- Using a portion of Tier 3 water fees to establish a conservation fund to support residents who integrate water conservation measures into their homes.
These changes include a new base fee structure related to meter size for all customers, and adjusted water tiers that align with average usage patterns in Okotoks. Only about 18 percent of residential customers use more than 46m3 of water per billing period and will be affected by changes to the Tier 3 threshold.
“These adjustments are designed to keep rates stable for residents, put money away for future infrastructure needs, offset tax support, and continue to support our commitment to conservation,” said Chris Radford, Okotoks Infrastructure and Operations Director.
With the exception of 2020 rates for two-inch non-residential meters, which will require a slightly higher adjustment, the proposed annual average increase for fixed rates for all utilities will remain consistent at 2.5 percent, (approximately $1.50 per month), over the next five years.
No substantial stormwater or waste utilities changes were recommended as part of the review.
The proposed fees will be considered for final approval during the formal budget process in late November 2019 and would come into effect January 1, 2020.