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April 14, 2000 - Councillor says Billing Explanation "All Wet"

Councillor says Billing Explanation "All Wet"

(Friday, April 14/2000)-- District 13 Councillor Sue Uteck doesn't buy an explanation by Carl Yates, General Manager of the Halifax Regional Water Commission, regarding how new water rate increases are being applied to recent billings.

Councillor Uteck said "Mr. Yates is rather cavalier is his explanation that some water users may pay a little more this year; others may pay a little more next year; but in the end, everything should work out."

The Councillor said it has been estimated the regional water commission could collect more than $200,000 in additional new revenues this year because of the way in which increases in Pollution Control Charges are being applied.

Halifax Regional Council approved annual increases in Pollution Control Charges last year to help pay for proposed new sewage treatment plants as part of the Harbour Solutions Project. This year's increase of 10-cents per cubic meter of water came into effect on April 1.

Those who received their quarterly billing before April 1 (for the previous months of January, February and March) were not charged the new rate. However, water users who received their quarterly water billing after April 1 were charged the new rate for the proceeding three months.

Because water commission billings are staggered for various districts throughout the year, Mr. Yates said it would be impossible to take meter readings of all 70,000 customers at the same time in order to apply the water rate increase evenly. "Over the long term, it kinda of works out. Next year it might be a different group affected" he was quoted as saying in a news report.

Councillor Uteck said "This is certainly no way to run a business. I can just imagine how Mr. Yates would react if all of his suppliers started rounding off their billings to suit their administrative convenience. Everyone else seems to be able to provide accurate billing numbers, why can't the Water Commission?"

The Councillor suggested the Water Commission review its billing process, make amends to consumers who were unfairly charged and apologize to those who were overbilled.

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Councillor Sue Uteck
(902) 221-7651