Richmond Review

Utility bills to rise in Richmond

Homeowners will pay up to $76 more for utilities next year to cover water, sewer, garbage and recycling fees, under a budget proposed Monday at city hall.

Property owners paying flat rates for water will be hit the hardest by the 2013 utility budget, but metered customers—whose numbers continue to climb—won’t escape increases.

Owners of single-family homes without a meter will pay $1,335 for utilities, a five per cent increase. Those with a meter will pay significantly less for utilities—an estimated $914—but will see a greater overall increase of 7.7 per cent.

With more homeowners making the free switch to meters, revenue is falling, forcing the city to make metered customers share a greater portion of the cost.

Approximately 68 per cent of single-family homes are now on meters, according to a staff report from manager Suzanne Bycraft. Most townhouses and apartments are still without, but that’s likely to change as the city is now promoting water meters for multi-family buildings.

Coun. Bill McNulty said Richmond has become a leader in water conservation by offering residents water meters and rebates for old toilet replacement. He also noted the benefit of a rate stabilization fund, which helps offset dramatic rises in Metro Vancouver costs.

In her report, Bycraft said utility costs were reduced where possible to minimize the impact of the higher rates, but noted “a significant portion” of increases are beyond the city’s direct control, such as Metro Vancouver costs for water and sewer service.

“Regional costs are expected to continue increasing as part of meeting demands for ensuring high quality drinking water and managing sewer treatment,” noted Bycraft.

The budget also lays out an expansion of the city’s food scraps and organics collection service. On June 3, 2013, $3 million in wheeled carts and kitchen containers will be distributed to homeowners with green waste pickup, which will also expand to townhouses with blue box service.

Expansion of the program will cost taxpayers $950,000 annually.

The 2013 rates, endorsed Monday, must still be ratified by city council. Utility bills are due in the spring, after which unpaid bills climb 10 per cent.

Proposed utility rates for 2013

Flat Rate

•House: $1,335 ($63 increase)

•Townhouse (on city garbage): $1,144 ($73)

•Townhouse: $1,038 ($76)

•Apartment: $770 ($38)

Metered (Estimated)

•House: $914 ($65)

•Townhouse (on city garbage): $641 ($61)

•Townhouse: $535 ($64)

•Apartment: $437 ($31)

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