Water bills in Greater Sudbury are set to go up by about $48 next year.
Sudbury city council made the decision at last night's budget meeting, even though some councillors thought the increase was too steep and others thought the water and sewer rates could go even higher.
City council had three options on the table — and the higher the rate hike, the more Sudbury’s water and sewer infrastructure would be repaired next year.
Coun. Jacques Barbeau said he would support the heftiest increase of $77, but voted for the $48 option instead.
"Every year, every day we delay this, we create additional risk for our residents,” he said. “So I really encourage council to make a stand on this."
But many city councillors took into account those Sudburians on fixed incomes, and how they’d pay their water bills next year.
"I think we have to do what we have to do, but I think we have to keep it to the lowest level we can,” Coun. Frances Caldarelli said.
'Do more with less'
Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said spending more now to fix aging infrastructure is the only way to help them in the long-run.
“The situation is not going to get any better for someone on a fixed income. It's just going to get worse,” she said.
“So, by investing prudently now, perhaps we are better able to handle the future. To not invest, I don't think would serve the residents very well."
Mayor Marianne Matichuk wanted a bare bones budget, built around a $38 hike, urging staff to "do more with less.”
"I think we just have to do with what we have,” she said. “I think staff are very creative in the ways that they can do things."
In the end, the $48 dollar hike will bring the average annual Sudbury water bill up close to $1,100 and give staff an extra $600,000 to spend on sprucing up the aging water and sewer system.
City staff members say that still leaves them $20 million short of what they should be spending.