Second round of budget talks coming

Prince Albert city council debates a motion. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Local Journalism Initiative

City staff are recommending a three per cent increase to water and sewer rates in 2022 as council continues their annual budget talks on Wednesday.

The change in fees would cost the average household an additional $2.42 per month.

“The recommended rate increases are required to ensure that sufficient funds exist to cover annual operating and capital costs for 2022,” reads the budget overview. The increase would pay for previous years losses and help pay for projected capital spending.

Additional three per cent increases in 2023 and 2024 are also part of the recommendation.

In 2022, the proposed capital budget for water and sewer includes $1.4 million for water main replacement and another $1.3 million for year two of the waste water plant upgrade.

Multiple other smaller projects are also planned and all told, expenses are estimated at $6.4 million with $1.7 million of that amount in loan principal repayments.

Also part of the deliberations are a series of letters of concern from residents on the north side of the river.

A proposal by Coun. Ted Zurakowski to cancel the septic rebate program in the Nordale area has drawn some concern.

All of the residents who wrote letters say that while their property taxes go into city coffers, they receive limited service from the city in return as they must maintain their own water and sewer systems to a large extent.

In airport operations, council will look at increasing rates at the airport as well.

A current minimum charge of $5 per 1,000 kg would more than double to $12 and an exemption for aircraft under 2,500 kg would be eliminated.

Parking fees would increase by $2 for each weight class of vehicle and the report also recommends increasing the number of lots available for lease as there is a shortage.

Discussions on these parts of the budget start on Wednesday at 4:00 pm and continue Thursday and Friday at the same times.

Council has not concluded discussions on the biggest portion of the budget, the general fund.

A date to finish those discussions will be announced once it is determined, Mayor Greg Dionne said last week.