Halifax Water's operation, management to be studied
Utility requested double-digit rate hike last week
Halifax regional council has asked for an assessment of how Halifax Water is operated and if it should remain independent, a week after the utility announced it will request a double-digit rate hike from the province's Utility and Review Board.
Several councillors said they're concerned about the recent proposal to raise water and waste water rates over the next two years, which would add nearly $200 per year to the average bill.
In 1996, when the Halifax Regional Municipality was born from amalgamation, Halifax Water assumed regional control of the water system. The next year, the municipality transferred its wastewater and stormwater assets to Halifax Water.
Coun. Tim Outhit said it's a good time to take stock and investigate whether the municipality should take back control of certain areas.
"I think I have a few concerns about storm water based on the weather we've had," he said Tuesday.
"I'm still a little bit concerned sometimes on when we're planning a new development. What does HRM development engineering, where does that stop and end with Halifax Water as well and could that be simplified or clarified."
Some councillors pointed out the utility is losing money and part of the problem is the amount of deferred maintenance that took place when Halifax Water was part of the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Halifax Water said the rate hike is necessary because it must upgrade aging pipes to meet new federal environmental guidelines. It also blamed the rising costs of operating expenses such as electricity, chemical costs and wages for the proposed jump.
If it's approved, the first proposed increase will take effect July 1. The second increase would take effect Apr. 1, 2014.