Bancroft’s Finance and Administration Committee approved a three-percent increase on water and wastewater bills in 2020.
There won’t be an increase this year.
Mayor Paul Jenkins and Treasurer Bill Davie presented their plan for how the Town will handle water and wastewater bills over the next eight years. “We never want to get back to a situation where we discovered in 2015 that we were running large deficits in the operation of our wastewater system to the tune of $1.8 million,” Jenkins says.
Under this plan, he hopes to eliminate the aforementioned deficit as well as build a reserve for both plants so that they can draw from it keep them both in good shape.
The model they used to determine their plan assumes Bancroft will see zero-percent growth over the next eight years. “We have new development already starting,” Jenkins notes. That’s why it’s going to be a “live document” that will be updated as time goes on to account for growth. “Being a live document if something unexpected happens like a flood it could have an adverse effect on it,” Jenkins explains. He adds that if through maintenance work certain components’ life spans are extended, then the reserve wouldn’t need to be as large. “Our hope is we will be able to remain stable,” he says.
When asked about growth, Jenkins points out it doesn’t just come internally. He points to the spike of house prices in the GTA and the influx of people moving to the area.
The committee meeting was well-attended and multiple residents came forth to tell their story about how a potential rate increase will negatively affect them. It was pointed out that the average income in the Bancroft region is $25,040, according to the 2016 census, which is just about 25-percent below the provincial average of $33,539. “We’re still subject to the same cost pressures as everyone else,” Jenkins says. He explains that the Town can’t lower costs by 30-percent because of that. “Their points are valid, but cutting rates would only exasperate the problem we’re already in and make it worse in the long run,” he says.
He says he and council understand the problem, but there is no short-term fix. Jenkins says the long-term fix involves getting more users on the treatment system.
The motion was carried by committee, which means council now votes on whether or not to approve it. That vote will happen in November. North Hastings Community Trust is also expected to present the results of their Water and Wastewater survey to council before the vote is made. The survey was completed by Community Trust’s team in June.