Castlegar residents will be seeing changes to how they are billed for water, sewer and garbage in 2016. The city is switching over to a quarterly billing system. This is partly to accommodate switching to a volumetric billing system for water usage. Invoices will be sent out at the end of March, June, September and December of each year.
For both water and sewer, there will be a base (flat) fee charged each quarter plus a rate based on water consumption. The base rate will provide the financial support to operate and maintain infrastructure, while the consumption rate will vary based on the volume of water used.
Over the last several years, the city of Castlegar has been installing water meters at residences. The intent is to use the meters primarily as a water conservation measure and not to generate additional revenues. Next year (2016) will be a transition year. The city will charge its usual flat rates, but will also show consumption information on invoices. Billing for consumption will not take place until 2017.
Currently the city has an early payment incentive of about 6.5 per cent. This incentive will no longer be appropriate with the quarterly billing, so it will be stopped. The city is working on a new incentive program for those who opt in to electronic billing, but the details have not been worked out.
Rates for 2016 have been set at: water $419.25 (up $8.22 from 2015), sewer $340.75 (up $6.49 from 2015), garbage $110 (down $12 from 2015) for a total bill of $870 and an increase of $2.71. However, those that are used to receiving the early payment incentive will also lose that $57.29 discount. Each quarterly payment will be $217.50, the equivalent of $72.50 per month.