“When the well is dry, we will know the worth of water”... Benjamin Franklin.
Well what a summer it has been thus far, I hope you have all had the chance to enjoy one of the many summer activities that our province has to offer. Whether it be heading to the cabin, visiting a splash park, or getting out to enjoy those sunny rays I truly hope you have enjoyed this wonderful season! As we head in to the last half of our wonderful Saskatchewan summers with many hot days ahead, I want to talk about water as it has become a topic of conversation in our community.
Whether it be the rain waters that have fallen on our province over the last few weeks, the usage of water for recreational purposes, the water we use for our daily needs, water is an important topic for us all and I want to take the time to share some information with you.
First, I want to begin by thanking our City of Warman Public Works staff who work hard to ensure that our community is able to deal with the excessive rain waters that fall throughout the spring and summer months. For many communities, flash flooding and heavy rain is a real concern, our team at the City of Warman work many long hours during these times to ensure that our homes are protected from flooding. So often we take for granted that we do not have to worry about the rain as it saturates into the ground, enters our storm sewers and fills our lakes and ponds. In the last few weeks we have witnessed the devastation that can occur in places such as Estevan, Humboldt and Arborfield and I am so thankful for our dedicated team who work hard to prevent disasters such as these. I hope the next time you meet a City of Warman Public Works staff member you take the time to thank them for all that they do.
The next important piece of information that I want to share with you is in regard to Warman’s utility bills and rates. There has been many questions raised through social media as well as at City Hall and I would like to answer these for you today.
1. Has the City of Warman considered more frequent billing options? The City of Warman is currently investigating this option for our residents. While the City understands there are many benefits to increased billing including more manageable bills for residents there are also many challenges that the City of Warman is currently evaluating. The City of Warman will continue to research this option to make certain that the best decision is made for the community and its residents.
2. Has the City of Warman considered an equalized billing option for utility bills? This is another area that the City of Warman is currently researching. As the City of Warman grows, coupled with the potential to increased frequency of billing, this option has the potential to benefit not only our residents but the City of Warman as well. The City of Warman will continue to research this option and look at the benefits and challenges when it comes to equalized billing.
3. What is the reason for the increase in utility bills? What is the reason for the increase in utility bills? To begin it is important that our residents understand that the City of Warman purchases our water from SaskWater who in the past few years have increased their rates by 6-7% annually. As a result a portion of the increase comes directly from the increase by SaskWater. The remainder of the increase is to cover the City of Warman costs for the Utility department. In 2015, the City of Warman Utility department only recovered 81% of the water costs from billings with the remaining 19% to be covered by taxation. Having a portion of this cost covered by taxation leads our tax payers to subsidize high volume water users, something that the City of Warman wants to eliminate. In addition, a small portion of the increase to cover costs for the Utility department allows the City of Warman to adequately plan for future infrastructure replacement in an effort to avoid large infrastructure deficits that would otherwise be paid by tax dollars.
I hope this information has provided some understanding behind some of the questions and concerns as it relates to utility billings in our community.