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No Rate Increase Proposed For Saint John Water

By Tim Herd Nov 16, 2022 | 7:00 AM

The City of Saint John sign is pictured in this file photo. Image: Brad Perry

Ratepayers in Saint John will likely see their water and sewer bills remain the same in 2023.

Common Council has given its first approvals to the city’s 2023 utility fund operating budget.

The budget proposes keeping water and sewer rates unchanged for the fifth year in a row.

“There is no proposed increase for flat fee customers or metered customers. This is the fifth year in a row that would have no increase, and meter rates and sewer rates are proposed to remain the same as well,” Coun. Gary Sullivan, who chairs the city’s finance committee, said at Monday’s meeting.

“The ongoing focus in recent years has been on the significant cost reduction, which has led to rate stabilization, allowing the utility to mitigate the significant current economic pressures.”

Flate rate customers currently pay $1,428 per year for their services, according to a city staff report.

Meanwhile, the city’s four industrial raw water customers would see various levels of rate increases compared to what they are paying this year.

Those customers include Irving Oil and Irving Paper on the east side, and Irving Pulp & Paper and NB Power’s Coleson Cove on the west side.

“The City set the rates to cover all operating costs associated with providing raw water to each customer, recover past debt associated with each system and include a charge for future asset replacement,” said a staff report.

“There is also a charge to some customers to cover the cost of assets currently being replaced, along with funding to a rate stabilization reserve for each customer.”

Overall revenue for 2023 is budgeted at more than $37.5 million. City staff anticipate the reduction in flat rate accounts the utility has seen in recent years has levelled and will actually increase slightly next year.

Saint John Water also expects a “conservative” increase in consumption from metered customers, which include commercial, manufacturing, malls, schools, restaurants, hotels and apartment buildings.

Several initiatives are planned for the 2023 budget, which includes leak detection on approximately one-third of the east water distribution system.

About one-quarter of the city’s fire hydrants will be repainted and 35 per cent of them will be inspected.

The utility has also budgeted $750,000 to dredge the Lancaster Sewage Lagoon, which is necessary before capital improvements to the lagoon can be made.


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