City offers incentive for paying utility bill on time

Five per cent discount offered starting in the new year.

Paying your utility bill on time will earn early payment incentives from the city, starting in the new year.

The audit and finance committee recommended the implementation of a five per cent discount for those who pay their bills on time.

In 2011, the city changed water and sewer billing from the annual property tax notice to a bi-monthly utility bill. A reprieve was granted for penalties and interest charges applied to late payments, and were penalized in the same manner as unpaid taxes.

City staff proposed offering an incentive for on-time payments, which council endorsed.

“Everyone loves a discount and nobody likes a penalty,” said Mayor Bruce Banman.

The water rate for residential users in 2014 is $1.15 per cubic metre, to be discounted to $1.09 for timely payments.

The residential sewer rate, which is expected to be raised in the 2014 budget, will be adjusted to $.97 – 10 cents higher than the current rate of $.88 – so the discounted rate will be $.92. The staff report states that due to sewer fund requirements related to infrastructure replacements, rates cannot be lowered.

The average savings predicted for a residential customer for on-time payments is about $5.

The city is also restructuring non-residential utility rates to bring them closer to residential prices.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, two groups of non-residential users will be created – commercial/institutional and industrial/agricultural.  According to the city’s website, effective Jan. 1, 2014, commercial and institutional customers will be charged 100 per cent of the residential rate on the first 1,667 cubic metres of water use, and 80 per cent over that amount.

Agricultural and industrial customers will be charged 90 per cent of the residential rate on the first 1,667 cubic metres of water, and 80 per cent thereafter.

By 2016 the plan is to have commercial and institutional users paying 100 per cent of the residential rate, and agriculture and industry paying 90 per cent of residential on all water consumption.

A report from staff states that given the uncertainty of the city’s long-term requirements for water reserves, rates will be re-visited during the 2015 budget when needs are better known.