Niagara Regional budget committee looking to boost water rates
Published January 13, 2023 at 2:08 pm
It’s Budget Season, which means all of the 12 municipalities in Niagara Region will be rubberstamping the earnest efforts of their Finance departments to keep homeowner tax hikes to a minimum.
Some will succeed; others will not. Not too surprisingly, most hikes are generated by the needs of local infrastructure – sewer system age, the condition of the local roads, public transit, any number of day-to-day things.
Niagara Region is no different and on January 12, their Budget Review Committee of the Whole approved operating budget increases for water and wastewater services, and waste management.
By most standards, the hikes were leaning towards the harsh side – 8.59 per cent for water and wastewater services and 5.5 per cent for waste management.
However, residents will see the increases under a different name. As the wholesaler of water and wastewater services in Niagara, the Region will bill the local municipalities, which will, in-turn, incorporate the new rates into resident water bills.
The Region says it is faced with unique challenges such as rising inflation, the rates budget increase allows the regional municipality to continue making strategic investments in support of economic and residential growth, and keep drinking water safe.
In 2021, the Region began planning for the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in south Niagara Falls. This investment, the largest in the Region’s history, supports residential and employment growth occurring in the area.
But the biggest changes will be coming next year for one element of regional waste management – recycling.
Starting January 1, 2024, Niagara Region will no longer be operationally and financially responsible for residential Blue Box processing and collection, which costs will then transition to the individual municipalities.
Niagara Region will continue to be responsible for regular, curbside collection of garbage and organics.
The Region says this transition will add moderate costs in 2023 but will eventually be offset by a substantial reduction of expenditures related to recyclable collection once decisions are finalized.
So the average Niagara household can expect to pay $14.71 per month for waste services in 2023.
Niagara Regional Council will not vote on the 2023 Regional Budget until a meeting scheduled for late February.