Linking into Colwood sewer could get $10,000 cheaper.
The one-time fee is charged when a new users join the sewer and goes into a reserve fund to offset future costs of expanding the system.
But City engineer Michael Baxter said the province won’t support including the fee in a new rate plan for sewage users that will be presentead to council next month.
“There are details we’re still working out, but we know that fee can’t be part of our new plan,” Baxter said at Monday’s council meeting.
City staff, knowing the cost savings is on the way, have been advising residents to wait to join the system. Baxter asked council to remove the fee immediately to avoid a backlog.
“We’ve got a lot of people sitting on their hands waiting for the fee to disappear,” Baxter explained. “Some need sewer quite desperately.”
But none of the councillors were willing to put forward a motion to delete the fee, preferring instead to wait and consider all the changes to sewer rates together.
“There’s no sense doing this piecemeal,” said Coun. Cynthia Day.
Coun. Ernie Robertson suggested deleting the fee could evoke legal action from the property owners who originally paid to establish the sewer system in Colwood.
“I don’t want to move on this now if it’s at the expense of reaching a settlement with the upstream users,” Robertson said.
Baxter said there’s little benefit in continuing to collect the fee. It’s only once been used to pay for new sewer lines. Currently the fund is going towards developing a sewer master plan.
“If we want to expand the sewer, we need a plan for how to do it,” Baxter said.
The new rate proposal, aimed at standardizing sewage taxes across the municipality, is expected at the Oct. 10 meeting.
It will include merging the 56 local sewer service areas into six and basing the sewage tax rate on parcel tax, rather than the more variable property tax.