Utility fees increasing $167 over the next three years

Homeowners in Prince Rupert will have to dig a little deeper into their pocketbooks to pay for utilities in the years ahead.

Homeowners in Prince Rupert will have to dig a little deeper into their pocketbooks to pay for utilities in the years ahead.

At the Jan. 6 meeting, council approved a five per cent per year increase for water, sewer and garbage collection in each of the next three years. The result in 2014 is a $19 increase to both water and sewer fees and a $12 increase to garbage, followed by a $20 increase to both water and sewer and a $12 increase to garbage in 2015 and a $21 increase to water, a $20 increase to sewer and a $24 increase to garbage collection in 2016.

Collectively the new fees will increase utility bills by at least $167 over the next three years, an average of $55.66 per year per household. Counc. Barry Cunningham said he was concerned about the impact such an increase could have to residents.

“You didn’t raise taxes a lot, but again we keep putting up utilities and we have one of the highest utilities around from what I understand,” he said.

“It’s an evil we have to put up with. It just seems that since splitting the utilities and the taxes, utilities keep climbing and it is a concern for me, particularly for people on a fixed income.”

Mayor Jack Mussallem said he understood Cunningham’s concerns, but said the increases were needed given the infrastructure maintenance requirements of the city.

“I echo what you say. But utilities have to be self liquidating and, of course, municipal government budgets have to be self funded so we don’t have a lot of options. It would be nice if we didn’t have to replace aging infrastructure because we could be a little easier on these rates,” he said.