Task force to look at Sandspit’s water problems

  • Apr. 12, 2010 4:00 p.m.

An equitable water fee system is in the works for Sandspit, after the Moresby Island Management Committee agreed to set up a task force, which will have a recommendation before the next MIMC meeting. After discussion at the April 8 MIMC meeting, the committee decided the task force would include each of the seven MIMC members, plus Bob Prudhomme, who operates the water system. Community members at the meeting said they were frustrated with the fee structure as it exists now and with the interim solution for 2010. During budget deliberations for 2010, the regional district decided that users would pay $250 this year as well as a parcel tax of $160. Those who do not use the system, but who own properties that could access the system must also pay the parcel tax. The water system has been costing more to run than has been collected since it was completed. This is because user fees, which were supposed to have been put in place in 2007, have not been collected, said regional district director Evan Putterill. Neither had a structure been put in place to utilize metering as a way of charging fees. Mr. Putterill said the taskforce members’ job would be to figure out the best way to charge and he hoped the change could be implemented during the second half of 2010. Others at the meeting said the answer should be easy to determine, once the cost of the water system is divided by the amount of water being used. “It’s simple mathematics. If you take the option to be hooked up, you pay a price,” said committee member Robert Chisholm. “It’s simple usage metering.” Mr. Chisholm pointed out that the water meters were already installed, and it was time to use them. But Mr. Putterill cautioned it’s not as simple as it seems. He said there are a variety of options and that the cost of billing the users must be taken into account as well. “It’s not as simple as throwing out a formula,” he said. Resident Jim Henry, who attended the meeting, said the parcel tax system is not fair because some properties in the community have multiple dwellings on them and only pay one tax. But, another resident pointed out that even at $410 a year, that equals approximately $1.10 a day, not a high price for water in comparison with the rest of the world. Mr. Putterill originally suggested that a smaller group form the taskforce and bring their recommendations back to the larger MIMC body, but others wanted a committee of the whole to be involved. The meeting will be held on April 17 at 10 am at the MIMC office. In other news, Moresby Island Management Committee’s regional district grant was reduced by $5,000 from $35,000 to $30,000 for 2010. Mr. Putterill said that for the last 10 years the committee has been funded by all of the electoral areas. He said other directors are uncomfortable with this as the committee is only for Sandspit. So by next year, the funding allocation for MIMC will only come from taxes raised in Area E. Because MIMC had a $2,500 surplus last year (2009), the impact will not be too great, he said. The cuts are coming out of staff and janitorial time.