Water and sewer user rates will increase by 10 per cent in Smithers this year.
Town Council voted unanimously to increase the rates at their regular meeting on March 26.
The 2019 increases amount to a $20 increase to the residential water user fee and a $26 increase to the residential sewer fee.
Council’s decision followed three recommendations made in a March 14 staff report by finance director Leslie Ford.
Mayor Taylor Bachrach said the report was ordered by council in response to the asset management presentation made by WPS consultants at their March 11 committee of the whole meeting.
The consultants had found that the existing cast iron water mains, typically installed in the 1950s and 1960s, are at the end of their service life cycle and should be replaced in the very near future.
“We’re going to have some really big expenses when it comes to replacing water and sewer pipes in the town,” Bachrach said before council voted.
“The idea here is to build up a bit of a nest egg so that we have funds that we can leverage to obtain other grants and hopefully piece together a plan that doesn’t see massive tax increases down the road.”
Bachrach later posted on Facebook with more information about the rate increases.
“The $6.2 million we are receiving from the province will be an important part of our infrastructure funding strategy,” he wrote, referencing an infrastructure grant announced on March 27.
However, he wrote, the grant won’t be enough.
Discussion about budgeted utility revenue and the Utility Infrastructure Statutory Reserve will be coming forward at a future meeting.