No increase to the average home owner plus enhanced services in 2014: The Town of Fort Erie staff presentation of the 2014 Water and Wastewater Budget was well received by members of Council at the December 4th Council-in-Budget Committee meeting. Council members were advised that there would not be a budget increase in 2014 and Council’s reserve strategy, put in place to mitigate risk, is now well established.
“Council recognized the need to ensure that the Town was well protected from the fluctuating Regional treatment costs and established the Wastewater Rate Stabilization Reserve that has allowed the smoothing of rates for the Fort Erie ratepayer. We were able to repay the $150,000 used in 2013 to this Reserve and are pleased to be able to announce that there will not be a water and wastewater increase in 2014 to the average household”, stated Mayor Doug Martin.
Corporate Services Chair, Councillor John Hill, added “We are also able to celebrate enhanced services that have a more customer-focused approach, such as monthly meter reading and E-billing, all the while holding a 0% increase to the average water and wastewater bill. Water customers have not been accustomed to a budget where we have been able to hold the line and this has been through the good efforts of this Council and previous Councils”. Councillor Hill also thanked staff for the more customer-focused approach to the presentation, making it easier to understand the pay-off in terms of the dividend to the customer.
The staff presentation also noted that maintenance activities are no longer funded from the Reserves, which is a sustainability target for municipalities. This strategy ensures that Reserve funds are used strictly for capital projects and not to fund operational activities.
Staff also forecasted a minimal increase over the next four years at less than 1% per year. The meter change out program, which has seen over 50% of households in Fort Erie equipped with the new RF meters, will also lead to a reduction in meter reading costs, improved customer service and greater accuracy.
The Town’s Director of Financial Services, Helen Chamberlain, also noted “the Town’s financial sustainability indicators are better than Provincial comparators. The age of our infrastructure (pipes and mains in the ground) and the reserve contribution for replacement costs of capital are both better than the Provincial average. The debt charge percentage of revenues is also considerably lower at 1.3%. We are very fortunate that our Municipal Council supported our financial strategies over the past several years and we are now in a position to reap the benefits of those strategies”.
The Town’s Budget process continues in the New Year. For further information and to view 2014 Budget presentations, visit us on the web at www.forterie.on.ca and click on the Budget banner.
For more information, contact
Director of Financial Services
905.871.1600 Ext. 2300
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Corporation of the Town of Fort Erie