Penticton residents can expect to see their utility bills go up next year.
How much exactly bills will be increasing will be decided in the upcoming budget process for 2021.
Looking ahead, the city is predicting that projects affecting water and sewer will leave a projected funding deficit that will need to be met.
In addition to increases to utility rates, the city is considering changes to its development cost charges and increased borrowing.
The development cost charges bylaw is planned to be revised and updated in 2021, after its last substantial revision in 2007.
The city is already going forward with a penalty model for utility payment, with unpaid bills incurring a two per cent penalty. The motion to approve that change was supported by the mayor and all councillors except Councillor Judy Sentes.
The changes to the actual utility rates would be in addition to the rate changes planned to go into effect after the 2019 utility rate review.
The wholesale rate for electricity from Fortis B.C. was originally assumed to increase by 2.2 per cent in 2021, but is now expected to go up by five to seven per cent. This would leave the city with an increase in their expenses by an estimated $1.1 million.
After the 2019 review, the rate for sanitary sewer utility was planned to increase by 9.4 per cent in 2021, however even with this increase, the city is expecting revenue to be from $500,000 to $700,000 below budget.
The rates for treated water and agricultural water were planned to increase by .6 per cent and four per cent respectively in 2021. Those rates are also expected to increase.
In addition to changes to utility rates and development cost charges, the city is looking at increased borrowing and grant applications to meet their other expected project costs.
Several projects that the city needs funding for will likely be worked in phases over multiple years to spread out their costs, including the lake-to-lake cycling route from 2021-20245, work on the Kinney Ave. intersection in 2022, revitalization of downtown scheduled for 2024, and work on Penticton’s creeks from 2022 to 2029.
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