We’ve heard from several residents with concerns about changes to their water bills. The city has introduced a fixed service charge to all bills, in addition to “per-use” rates. The more water you use, the more you’ll pay – but households that are using the least water are seeing a big increase to their bills under the new system due to the new fixed charge. These changes were approved in October 2016.
Randall Denley wrote a good analysis in the Ottawa Citizen this week. From a budgeting point of view the rate changes make sense. The City needs to maintain a safe drinking water system, but under the old rate structure, the city wasn’t bringing in enough revenue to cover the cost of building and maintaining our water, sewer, and stormwater systems.
I’m not happy that the roll-out has hit low-use residents hard, particularly seniors. The “average” user might only see a modest increase but that hides the true impact of the changes to people who use the least water. I have already talked to staff and council colleagues about how we can soften the impact of the changes, for example phasing in the increases over a number of months or years, and I hope that we can find a solution.
If you have questions about your bill, you should call the city’s Revenue Department at 613-580-2444. They can walk you through the changes and ensure that the new rates are being applied correctly.
The City also has a payment deferral program for low-income seniors and low-income people with disabilities. Click here for more info.