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City Affirms Markham 8% Water Rate Hike

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Move adds $62 to average household bill

Water rates are on the rise in Markham.

The city approved a 23-cent increase – or eight per cent – per cubic metre of water, bringing your 2014 water and wastewater rates up to $3.07 per cubic metre, compared to $2.84 this year.

The city’s increase encompasses the region’s annual 10 per cent water rate increase as well as the city’s annual 3-cent per cubic metre infrastructure surcharge.

The city introduced a phased-in infrastructure surcharge in 2008 amounting to about 41 cents and will wrap up by 2018.

The surcharge goes toward the city’s reserve fund to ensure adequate funding for future replacement and rehabilitation requirements over the next 25 years.

The water rate increase amounts to about an additional $62 a year tacked on to your water bill, based on the average home consumption of about 273 cubic metres of water.

Deputy mayor and Regional Councillor Jack Heath argued residents would be hit twice next year with an infrastructure surcharge – one for water and wastewater and another potentially on property taxes.

The city’s proposed 2014 budget includes a 1.9 per cent tax rate increase together with a 0.5 per cent infrastructure surcharge. The property tax increase amounts to about $26.50 tacked on to your property tax bill, based on the average cost of $485,000 for a Markham home.

Mr. Heath put a motion on the floor of this week’s council meeting to defer the water and wastewater surcharge, which would save homeowners about $9.

On average, homeowners spend about $840 on water and wastewater services a year.

“With water and taxes we’re looking at close to $100 per household next year,” Mr. Heath said. “We should find ways to reduce this for homeowners. We should try to do something to benefit homeowners.”

Mayor Frank Scarpitti argued deferring the water and wastewater surcharge would not necessarily mean a $9 savings for homeowners.

“It’s not a $9 break,” he said. “We would have to find that $9 elsewhere. Or that $9 becomes $18 next year.”

If the charge was deferred next year, what would stop it from being deferred the year after, Mr. Scarpitti said.

“Next year is an election year,” he said. “2018 is an election year, too. Are we going to put off for another few years then, too? We can’t let our reserves slip by.”

Mr. Heath said he took exception to the mayor insinuating he wanted to defer the surcharge because of a looming election adding he ‘might not be here in two elections.’

The motion to defer water and wastewater surcharge was defeated.

The new water rates will be implemented April 1, 2014.

For more information, visit markham.ca

Markham Economist & Sun

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