Get ready to pay more for regional utilities – especially garbage disposal – next year.
Metro Vancouver will raise the garbage tipping fee at its transfer stations Jan. 1 from $97 to $107 per tonne, an increase of more than 10 per cent.
A sluggish economy means less garbage is being generated and less tipping fees are collected, so the region has had to increase the rate to cover the fixed costs of the waste-disposal system.
The Metro board on Friday passed a $614-million budget, which is up 1.2 per cent overall.
Water fees are rising 5.9 per cent and sewer fees go up 3.5 per cent.
But the general government part of the Metro budget actually shrank slightly, so the region will collect $2 less per average home in property tax.
“This is a financially frugal budget with expenditures that come well under board-approved targets,” Delta Mayor and board chair Lois Jackson said.
The typical home will pay $524 next year in combined Metro utility fees and property tax, an increase of $11.
That per household burden has climbed an average of six per cent a year since 2004, when it stood at $333.
And it’s forecast to climb by roughly $40 annually to $743 per home by 2016.
Metro directors say much of the spending is driven by large but unavoidable major projects.
Work begins next year on a new ultraviolet treatment system for drinking water from Coquitlam Lake, which serves the eastern third of the region.
Work will also start on a new $250-million seismically protected water tunnel under the Fraser River to serve the growing South of Fraser area and ensure the water supply there isn’t knocked out in an earthquake.
Another water tunnel at Annacis Island is estimated at $430 million, part of a planned $2.3-billion package of water capital projects over the next decade.
“We’ve survived a long time with things that would go down in an earthquake,” Metro chief administrator Johnny Carline said.
“Now we’re having a hard look at whether we can take that kind of gamble any longer.”
Metro is also required by the federal government to upgrade its Iona and Lions Gate sewage treatment plants to secondary treatment, a bill estimated at $1.4 billion in the coming years.
North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton said he’s concerned about the rising bills for households, particularly seniors on fixed incomes.
Metro has yet to sell its Ashcroft Ranch operation – bought years ago for a new regional landfill that was never approved – and operating it will cost taxpayers $1.1 million next year.
The region will spend $5.8 million next year on corporate relations, which includes communications, media relations, external outreach and running websites.
METRO AVERAGE 2012 COST PER HOME
(based on $600,000 home, typical usage)
Regional taxes – $37 (down $2)Sewage fees – $176 (up $6)Garbage disposal – $91Water rates – $220 (up $7)
TOTAL: $524 (up $11)