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Utility bills set to climb for Richmond homeowners

Homeowners will pay up to $79 more in utilities next year, after city council hiked rates Monday for water, sewer, garbage and recycling.

Owners of single-family homes without a water meter will pay the most: $1,271.86 in 2012, an increase of 6.6 per cent.

The increase is on top of a 10 per cent hike in 2011 and seven per cent in 2010.

Homeowners of a metered apartment will face a greater increase of 8.4 per cent in 2012, but will still have the cheapest bill: $495.51.

City council voted in favour of the rates Monday. Final approval is expected Dec. 19.

Regional costs are responsible for much of the utility rate increases, according to Suzanne Bycraft, a manager in the city's engineering and public works department.

"This trend will continue for the foreseeable future as the challenges association with addressing growth and new demands for water and sewer treatment are managed," she said in her report.

Hikes in water, sewer treatment and garbage tipping fees from Metro Vancouver—governed by a board that includes Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Coun. Harold Steves—comprise nearly two-thirds of the utility bill increase taxpayers face.

A quarter of the increase will go to the city for upgrading drainage infrastructure. Eight per cent of the increase will cover city operating costs and another eight per cent will cover higher contract fees.

Staff had recommended a slightly lower rate this year, but Coun. Linda Barnes convinced the majority of council to collect $138,700 more from taxpayers to offset future increases in garbage tipping fees. Couns. Evelina Halsey-Brandt and Ken Johnston opposed the move.

Utility bills are due March 31, 2012, after which unpaid bills climb 10 per cent.

2012 utility rates (+increase)

Flat Rate

•Single family home: $1271.86 ($78.64)

•Townhouse (on city garbage): $1,071.25 ($66.66)

•Townhouse: $962.26 ($64.38)

•Apartment: $732.13 ($48.25)

Metered (average water/sewer use)

•Single family home: $896.77 ($63.13)

•Townhouse (on city garbage): $771.22 ($55.14)

•Townhouse:$662.23 ($52.86)

•Apartment: $495.51 ($38.22)

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