After Summerland Council voted to absorb the cost of the (DSS) domestic secondary service metering, they will be deciding on Tuesday whether properties keeping their meters will receive monthly mock bills in preparation for future costs.
Starting back in 2019, domestic properties in Summerland with pit meters were found they needed to be installed at the owner’s expense at $2,300, or be decommissioned.
Then in August 2020, letters were sent to DSS customers, with an updated cost of $3,500.
The project was put on pause until February 2023, due to COVID-19 and staff turnover delays, before a renewed council direction came forward to implement the previous metering program.
The municipality sent out letters that February to the domestic properties, explaining that the District of Summerland would be moving forward with a long-planned process to either remove or meter all secondary services for water on these particular properties.
Residents were given the option to disconnect the secondary service at no cost to them or have the district install meters at the owner's cost of $3.5K, either combining the primary and secondary meters or just installing an extra one for the secondary source.
In mid-March, the deadline was extended for 240 Summerland properties that had been given the options.
Following public backlash and an open house consultation with the public, the issues continued to come back to the Summerland Council.
At the end of June, council voted for second service customers to pay $0 for the meter installations with the full cost estimated at $675,000 to be covered by the Water Capital Reserve, with staff exploring the administration of a mock-billing period for one irrigation season from April to September.
Staff is recommending for council approve those properties choosing to keep their existing DSS to receive monthly mock bills which would include, but are not limited to, a base fee, environmental levy and water consumption during the 2024 irrigation season.
Properties choosing to keep their existing DSS by metering it will be invoiced their annual rate as set in “District of Summerland Water Utilities Bylaw No. 2014-019.”
They are also suggesting that the 2024 Annual DSS fee for arable acres of 0.5 or less, be increased to $271.26, prior to any additional rate increases that may be levied during the 2024 budget process
Staff added that on commencement of live billing for DSS, it should be renamed Seasonal Water Services. The Seasonal Water Service rates would commence upon the completion of a one-year mock billing cycle, with the intent of monthly bills being processed in April 2025
Seasonal Water Service rates would be set up to mirror Domestic Water rates in all aspects except that the monthly charges only be levied during the irrigation months (April to September).
Seasonal Water Service rates would also be invoiced regardless of whether the property owner utilizes the service in any given year.
The district is also recommended to establish a Seasonal Water Service disconnection fee of $50 for those properties who wish to have their service disconnected during, or after the one-year mock billing cycle.
Council will be presented with the options of:
- Full transition to current billing process (12 months of monthly fees)
- Partial transition to current billing process (6 months of monthly fees)
- Only Charge Monthly Domestic Water Rate
Council will discuss the proposed plans on Tuesday.