NB utility rates low compared to other cities

By Angela Brown
January 15, 2019 - 2:00pm

While local residents likely don't relish opening a new water-sewer bill, they may be happy to know the City of North Battleford's rates are at the low end compared to other cities studied.

For water-sewer rates, based on North Battleford’s 4.5 per cent increase for 2019, for 275 cubic metres use, North Battleford will charge $1,493 per year or $124 per month, compared to 2018 rates for Humboldt at $2,171 per year or $181 per month at the high end, and Saskatoon at $1,155 per year or $96 per month at the low end of the scale, when looking at six Saskatchewan cities in total. 

“North Battleford is still one of the lowest in the city sectors,” said Finance Director Steve Brown. “We’re not very far off, $10 to $15, from other cities.”

Council accepted the city administration recommendation to approve the 4.5 per cent utility rate increase bylaw, based on the city's 2019 budget.

As well, the city will standardize what a residential and a commercial property owner would pay for a base rate for the same-sized metre being used, which is not related to the consumption charge.

Brown said the metre rate issue was brought forward by a ratepayer asking why businesses pay more than residents for the same-sized metre use.   

Other items discussed at council include compensation for North Battleford part-time firefighters.

Part-time firefighters with the North Battleford fire department are rewarded based on their level of training, according to a submitted report by Fire Chief Trevor Brice.

The policy includes new pay-scales agreed during the 2019 budget process.

For each response or scheduled practice training, a part-time firefighter will receive $17 per hour during the first level of training; $18 per hour during the second level of training; $19 per hour for the 1001 uncertified training; $20 per hour for IFSAC 1001 Certification; and $21 per hour for the Senior Firefighter. They are entitled to a minimum of three hours pay, based on the Saskatchewan Employment Act.

As well, an incentive fee is available for retainers, based on their skill level. For completion of the Saskatchewan Level 1 training, $90; completing Saskatchewan Level 2, $175; IFSAC 1001, $200; IFSAC 1001 Senior Firefighter (maximum four), $250.      

Mayor Ryan Bater said following the meeting it had been time to review the rates.

“The part-time firefighters, their remuneration hadn’t changed in over 10 years, I believe,” he said. “The policy hadn’t changed in about that amount of time too. So this is long overdue.”   

Bater added during budget deliberations council had agreed to increase the compensation for part-time on-call firefighters.

"Tonight was about firming up the policy around that, and ensuring that we’re being consistent with other collective bargaining agreements," he said.

The mayor added he used to be a part-time firefighter himself many years ago, and hopes more people will step up to participate.

“I can tell you that the training is fun, you learn a lot, and you develop camaraderie with other firefighters,” Bater added. “It’s really a worthwhile endeavor. I encourage people to take advantage of that if they can.”

The Snow Angels program also was discussed during council's meeting.

The Snow Angels program draw winner was announced at council, for residents who pitch in to clean their neighbour’s driveway or walkway. A total of 19 nominees names were received for December and January for the program that rewards residents who volunteer to help others by clearing snow from their neighbour's walkway. The winner was announced as David Warren who will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card. The aim of the Snow Angels program is to promote “neighbourliness” in the community.

 

angela.brown@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @battlefordsnow

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