Service cost increases coming to Castor

With looming budget cuts coming, Castor residents need to brace for an increase in fees

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Advance

With looming budget cuts coming from the provincial government, Castor residents need to brace for an increase in town fees.

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) has made the recommendation that the communities under its jurisdiction begin implementing full cost recovery on services provided to residents.

“If the year ended right now, we would lose $26,844 in water,” said Castor CAO Christopher Robblee.

“Part of what we’re going to propose to council in new budget planning is a roll-out of, over the course of three years, full cost recovery on essential services.”

These essential services provided by the Town include water, sewer, gas and garbage, each of which has previously operated at a loss. As of July 31st, the Town is still facing a significant water loss of just over 20 per cent. To date for 2019 gas is also losing money with under a .5 per cent loss.

Preliminary numbers given to council by Robblee show that water rates for Castor would have to increase by $3.48 a month for the community to break even on water services, and administration will be presenting water as the first increase once budget talks begin, with garbage and gas increasing in subsequent years.

“On this budget we will be bringing in a break-even budget on water,” said Robblee.

“If you supply water you should break even. You shouldn’t make money, it’s an essential service.”

During the budget discussion of the Aug. 19th meeting Robblee also informed council that he has had it confirmed through the AUMA that the Municipality Sustainability Initiative (M.S.I.), part of the town’s annual operational funding from the province, will be seeing a 20 per cent cut for 2020, further impairing the Town’s financial situation.

The cost of living in rural Alberta is going to go up, however with budgets being cut and the cost of services ever increasing, what remains to be seen is how much.

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