It's going to cost Drumheller rate payers more for water and sewer service in 2017, but exactly how much more is still to be determined.
Town Council defeated a proposal by administration at their December 12 meeting to hike the price of town water by five per cent and waste water by two per cent. The vote was 3-3, with Councillor Jay Garbutt absent.
Mayor Terry Yemen said they amended the bylaw to a three per cent hike for water and 1.5 per cent on waste water to give residents a bit of a break.
"Council certainly realizes the (provincial) carbon tax is going to be like a three per cent sales tax," he allowed. "We have to deal with some realities too because there is inflation, there is a cost to producing clean, safe water and those costs continue to go up."
The town has been raising water and sewer rates more than inflation to get in line with a provincial demand to have municipally owned utilities pay for themselves. The mayor admits this rate cut will hurt that effort.
"Less money would be put into the reserves; probably for 2017 there would be no additional money put into the reserves with those rates," he noted. "We have asked administration to plug those rates in and bring them back on the 19th for us to look at and see exactly what they will mean; we don't know yet."
"I think we were looking at another two or three years to have it self funded, so this could end up making it four years," Yemen elaborated. "I'll tell you, we are way, way ahead of a lot of municipalities; a lot of municipalities haven't even gone to this program yet."
Councillors will pass new utility rates in a special meeting next Monday, December 19 before their regular Committee of the Whole meeting.

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