Lacombe Council gave first reading to their utility rate bylaw which will see and increase of $1.14 a month, or about $11.50 per year for the average household.
The Water Utility Rate and the Wastewater Utility Rate will see an increase of 0.9 per cent; while the Solid Waste Utility Rate will remain the same.
The 0.9 increases are based on the 2020 tax rate, which was also set at 0.9 per cent.
“I had said that the scenarios developed were based on the presumption that anything that went for the tax rate would similarly go to the utility rate, other than solid waste where we had said that we will freeze it at the same rate,” Mathew Goudy, Lacombe chief administrative office, said.
The solid waste rate remained steady due to the removal of curbside pick-up of recycling.
“We would have liked to see that rate go lower with the reduction in curbside recycling pick-up but with some of the changes we have seen in the industry, the actually cost for pick-up of recycling has gone way up and with the increased use at the Wolf Creek recycling depot — we are picking it up about twice as often,” he said.
The water and wastewater rates are below the rate of inflation in Alberta, but Goudy says they should easily cover their costs.
“Both of those utilities are in healthy positions right now,” he said.
Goudy said the increases are lower than several other comparable municipalities in the province
“When we have looked around at some of our colleagues, the average increase was around 2 per cent, so being around 1 per cent was something council put a high priority on,” he said.
For wastewater, prices remained relatively the same despite the city being involved with a highly praised regional wastewater system.
“It was brought in to meet the new wastewater regulations that were brought in by the federal government. Meeting those standards required an enhancement to our equipment — we chose to do that with a regional service delivery model with Red Deer. There is some increased costs because we are pumping wastewater all the way to Red Deer,” he said.
Goudy said there is some room to move if council requests lower utility rates at second or third reading.
“At 0.9 per cent, it is such a small amount that I am sure there is some modifications that can be made but already being lower than the rate of inflation in Alberta is something council is pleased to be able to deliver,” he said.
Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said there was no surprises to these rates.
“We have tried to keep our increases to an acceptable level and I think we have done that,” he said.
Creasey doesn’t foresee huge changes to the rates.
“We are getting down to splitting hairs when we are talking about a fraction of one per cent. Is it an increase, sure, but I believe it is an acceptable one,” he said.