Water rates too high, says Port councillor

  • Jan. 9, 2012 11:00 a.m.

A member of the Port Clements village council says his water and sewer rates are too high, and has asked the other council members to do something about it. Urs Thomas, who owns the Golden Spruce Motel and was elected to council less than two months ago, wrote a letter to the village Dec. 21 saying the motel business is slow and he must lower his costs. “The occupancy rate in the motel is the lowest I’ve seen in the last 16 years and I get near to none business anymore from the logging industry,” he wrote. “My current water and sewer usage is probably not more than an average family household but I’m paying $417 every three months which hurts a lot, knowing not having the required revenue and not using the resource.” Administrator Kim Mushynsky said Mr. Thomas pays a total of $345 quarterly for water and sewer service to the Golden Spruce (Mr. Thomas’s $417 figure includes garbage fees). Under the village’s bylaws, he is charged separately for the motel, laundromat and cafe. In his letter, Mr. Thomas told council that the business probably uses no more water than the average household in Port, yet pays more than three times as much. The way the village charges businesses for water and sewer service has been an issue in the past, and Mr. Thomas has raised it before. This summer, Gas Plus owner Stephen Foster asked council to lower his utility charges. Council agreed, but the gas station closed down two weeks later. This time around, council voted to have Ms Mushynsky review the way the village charges businesses for utilities, look at how other small communities deal with the same issue, and make a recommendation as to how they should deal with Mr. Thomas’s request. Council members said they want to help local business owners, yet have no control over the economy or how people run their businesses. Also, Ms Mushynsky warned that if charges are reduced for some, others will have to make up the difference, as the water and sewer budgets do not have big surpluses. Mr. Thomas had to leave the room and did not vote on the decision when council discussed his letter at the Jan. 3 meeting.