Hawkesbury property owners will pay more for what flows in — and out — of their homes and businesses in 2023.

On February 27, council adopted a by-law establishing new water and wastewater (sewer) rates. The new flat rate for all water customers is $42.50 per quarter, and the additional metered water consumption rate is $1.14 per cubic metre. The previous rates set in 2022 were $41.50 for the flat rate and a metered rate of $1.00 per cubic metre.

According to the 2023 budget, $2,203,613 is required to cover fixed and variable expenses associated with operating the water system this year. The 2022 water system budget was $2,025,848.

The new wastewater rates adopted by council on February 27 are a quarterly flat rate of $56.25 and a per cubic metre rate of $1.34. The previous quarterly wastewater flat rate was $55.75 and the per cubic metre rate was $1.18. The 2023 budget for fixed and variable expenses associated with the Hawkesbury wastewater system is $2,734,508. In 2022, the wastewater budget was $2,554,753.

Fixed rate review

The Town of Hawkesbury is also carrying out a review of its fixed water rates.

On February 27, Treasurer Philippe Timbers presented a report to council indicating inconsistencies in the current fixed rate structure have been identified. The structure was implemented when the town installed water meters on buildings connected to the system back in 2010-2011.

Timbers report highlights how the fixed rate for all water customers in 2023 will total $170. An industrial plant will pay the same amount as a single person living alone in their house.

Timbers and his staff conceptualized a new format that would reduce the fixed base rate from $170 to $145 (based on 2023 data). It would introduce fixed rates that vary between $500 and $1,500 annually for commercial, large surface and industrial type properties. However, the numbers presented in the current report are only for illustrative purposes and are not intended to be the final amounts of the new charges. Further analysis is needed, but the idea behind the review of the fixed rate for water customers is to establish a more equitable price range.

The report includes a comparison of fixed water rates with four other municipalities across Ontario. Locally, Russell Township has a residential dwelling fixed rate of $275 per residential unit and $182 per unit in a multi-residential building. The City of Pembroke has a generic flat rate of $515 for all water customers. The City of Elliot Lake has fixed rates for residential, multi-residential, and commercial water customers, and the Town of Arnprior has no flat rate for water use.

Councillor Jeanne Charlebois is pleased the fixed water rate structure is being reviewed.

“A lot of people have commented to me about the present system,” she said.