Rate increases stink, and this one is would be no exception.
The City of Swift Current is eyeing a change to the current disposal rate for septage in the city.
The rate would be adjusted from its current set amount of $0.86 per cubic metre, all the way to $2.50 per cubic metre, with an additional pair of $0.50 raises in 2023 and 2024 to bring it to a total of $3.50 per cubic metre.
That final rate of $3.50 per cubic metre would see the final increase at 407 per cent of the current going septage rate of $0.86.
General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations, Mitch Minken, presented the report before city council at Tuesday's governance and priorities meeting. He explained why they feel the need to increase the rate so drastically.
"Our objective is to align the provincial average and adequately cover our cost," said Minken. "The rates for disposal costs vary widely, with Swift Current being the lowest in the province."
Minken revealed that Yorkton, a city that uses a similar septic disposal system, charges at a rate of $2.89 per cubic metre. Their research revealed that Regina leads the province, at a rate of $15.72 per cubic metre. Adjusting the City's rates would help to combat the cost of running the program long-term going forward.
"Future increases would be equal to the water rate increases in effect yearly," said Minken.
The reason why Swift Current has maintained such a low rate is that the rate itself hasn't changed since 2001. That's when the City implemented the current Water and Wastewater Bylaw No. 17. As it stands, it costs the City $2.37 for every cubic metre of septage they dispose of.
The concern for council was not just the restructuring of the bylaw to allow for change, but also the sudden leap in cost placed upon Swift Current's citizens. The first to venture questions was Councillor Christiansen.
"Obviously we need a major increase, which I agree with," said Christiansen. "The increase immediately for the balance of the year ($2.50), for the customers who are coming into dump, does that give them a fair warning as far as what they can charge out to people they're hauling for?"
This brought forth the general tone of the conversation in the room that people deserved a better warning for the rate increase. Council agreed that this revision to the rate needed more work on the timing and scheduling of the increase before they can implement the needed changes.
For now, it will be back to the drawing board. In the future, it's expected that a fully drawn-up schedule for the increase will be included in the presentation made at a future council meeting.