Aurora Town Square (Library Square) has been a highlight of the majority of the Council term 2018–2022. What should have also been a highlight of that Council term — our water bill.
In 2019 news that “Aurora stormwater costs expected to double in next 10 years due to climate change” went unnoticed.
“While the formula is working well at the moment, Milhail [Manager of Engineering and Capital Delivery for the Town of Aurora] WARNS that with the increasing water flows brought by more frequent and intense storms attributed to climate change combined with the town’s aging stormwater infrastructure, the cost to maintain the town’s stormwater system will more than double in the next 10 years, which could have a significant impact on the taxpayer.”
Back in 2019 a report to Council itself was full of warnings that the replacement of AGING INFRASTRUCTURE will increase costs for taxpayers.
“Town’s underground infrastructure continues to age, the Town must continue its strategy of setting aside the significant funding now that will be required in the future to replace this aging infrastructure in the future.“ Source (file type: PDF).
“The other significant driver on rates will be future growth and inflation impacts.“
Three years have passed and not much has been said about our water infrastructure plans; however, there have been some recommendations, “At that time Council approved a project allowing staff to explore further the implementation of the consultant’s recommended alternative rate structure. When it is in a position to do so, staff will bring a report to Council for its consideration, which may impact proposed rates.”
So the alternative rate structure basically means that the town is likely looking to collect more money from us to replace the aging infrastructure.
“Council received the report for information and approved $100,000 for a Storm Sewer Reserve Fund and Rates Study, meaning town staff will proceed to select an engineering consultant to lead the process of designing a new and more fair funding approach and report back at a later date with an outline of the final rate structure and timeline for implementation.”
To help put this in perspective we can take a look what is happening this year in Richmond Hill, “Richmond Hill farmers outraged by soaring stormwater charges despite not receiving service from city.” “The hundredfold increase on their stormwater bills is a result of a new fee structure introduced by Richmond Hill this year, replacing a flat-fee system that was implemented in 2013.”
Understanding Your Current Water Bill
Our water bill consists of three charges: residential water metered, residential sewer metered and a flat fee for stormwater (storm sewer).
We are currently paying a higher rate for water out (residential sewer metered) versus water in (residential water metered) at equal volume.
We are currently paying a flat fee for stormwater.
The charge that is being investigated for an alternative rate structure is our stormwater flat fee.
In summary, our water bill will likely continue to increase in order to fund our infrastructure maintenance and replacement costs. The ‘alternative rate structure’ for stormwater billing may be unavoidable in the future as other municipalities are moving in that direction and our Council already approved $100,000 for a Storm Sewer Reserve Fund and Rates Study.
Remember our Council is responsible to demonstrate fiscal accountability and transparency.