Thunder Bay wastewater surcharge to rise about $83 annually
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said he wants the surcharge raised even higher
The discussion was part of council's review of the 2015 city budget.
Currently, residents pay a sewer surcharge of 75 per cent of their water consumption.
Administration proposes raising it to 90 per cent.
Councillor Aldo Ruberto wanted to see that number lowered, but Mayor Keith Hobbs took the discussion in a different direction.
Hobbs said doing so would reduce, by millions, the amount of debt the city would incur for future sewer system capital projects — and save millions more in interest payments.
Some councillors supported the idea, but most, like Rebecca Johnson, did not.
Ruberto said ongoing rate hikes are an issue for him.
“If you look at the costs from last eight years or nine years, it's been like a straight up, for everything, water, hydro, taxes, etc. When do we stop with that?”
Hobbs said his idea makes fiscal sense.
“Right now, yeah, it's going to tick off a lot of people, and, yeah, I'm going to get crucified as a mayor for bringing this forward,” he said.
Ruberto countered that the 100 per cent surcharge will make thing difficult “for the small business owner, for the families that are struggling out there.”
“This is going to make it really tough. I was coming here tonight to say, 'hey ... let's go from 75 [per cent], maybe to 80 [per cent], never mind 90. Now we want to jump to a hundred?'"
City administration said increasing the surcharge from 75 per cent to 90 per cent will allow Thunder Bay to "achieve financial sustainability, full-cost recovery and affordability for consumers, while maintaining the city's existing service levels for sewage collection and treatment."
Council voted down the mayor's motion, leaving the proposed surcharge at 90 per cent, pending final ratification of the budget.
City staff said, for an average homeowner that works out to an increase of $83 per year.