Progress on administration’s review of Turner Valley’s utility rates will go before citizens this afternoon.
Town administration will present its utility rate review at an open house Sept. 12 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the council chambers to share how the Town’s utility rates are set, what variables determine the rates and how Turner Valley compares to other communities. The open house was rescheduled from Monday.
“This is our effort to make sure we’re transparent and continually re-evaluating any fees and charges that we pass on to the community,” said Todd Sharpe, chief administrative officer. “It’s also an effort to make sure that we’re sustainable and we’re planning long-term for our infrastructure needs in Turner Valley.”
Sharpe said council directed administration to conduct a utility rate review for the Town’s water and sewer rates to ensure it’s charging residents and businesses appropriately.
“We’ve heard from residents that they believe we might be overcharging based on some of the profits we’ve made off the water and sewer rates the last few years,” he said.
In recent years, the Town realized an annual surplus of $100,000 to $150,000 for water and sewer, said Sharpe, adding that surplus has gone into the Town’s general revenue and operating costs.
Sharpe said the surplus is the result of a general growth in customer base and efficiencies gained due to the formation of the Sheep River Regional Utility Corporation (SRRUC).
“Our costs have gone down and the costumer base increased over the past several years,” he said. “Any profits should stay with the utility in my opinion.”
Sharpe said Turner Valley’s Water Utility and Sewer Service Bylaw was passed in 2008 and last amended in 2016. The latter was also the year the Town conducted its Infrastructure Management Plan for water, sewer and storm water.
“Now we’re getting a handle on the long-term costs to maintain and replace our infrastructure,” he said.
The formula used to help determine water and sewer rates takes into account the cost to purchase water wholesale from SRRUC, maintenance, water testing and repairs, said Sharpe.
“We’re going to show the rationale behind how we determine the utility rate and explain the different variables that go into determining the rate,” he said. “We expect to have that new formula ready by the open house and explain what that looks like and all the inputs to determine our utility rates.”
Once the review is complete, Sharpe said administration will present a recommended rate and formula to council and hold a public hearing this fall.
“We’ll continue our work and come back to council with the recommended changes to the bylaw, which will include the formula that we would like to use and an indication of what that rate would be,” he said.