Request a slippery slope for Village of Burns Lake council

A local building owner appealed to council to have their business utility rates decreased last week

A local building owner appealed to council to have their business utility rates decreased last week.

Anda Management Ltd. the new owners of the Highway 16 building currently occupied by the Canadian Cancer Society, Lakes District Unit, wrote a letter to council requesting the annual utility rates for the building be decreased this year.

Daniel Metcalf from Anda Management requested rates, “Be decreased to a more appropriate level.”

“We recently purchased the facility and are leasing it to the Canadian Cancer Society for a very minimal fee. The facility is open five days a week, with two people in attendance,” he wrote.

The building was previously occupied by a hairdressing salon.

According to the annual utilities invoice Anda Management Ltd. are required to pay $464.25 for water, $180 for garbage and $423.58 for sewer services.

Councillor John Illes said that he agrees with the request from Anda Management, but that going down the path of reducing fees is a “slippery slope.”

He said that there had been a previous discussion by council to find out the costs of installing water meters in the village and that he would be interested in following this up. “The businesses would then pay by the amount of water they used, although we do need [to continue to receive] the same amount of dollars in our budget,” Coun. Illes added.

“Yes it is a slippery slope,” agreed mayor Bernice Magee.

She went on to say that council had discussed water meters and water rates previously, but in the end they had decided to leave the water rates as they are.

She added that it had been determined by village staff and council that the cost of installing water metres was cost prohibitive. “Water metres are great, but ultimately you need to have them installed and they require regular reading,” she added.

Councillor Illes said that there are now modern water meters available that can be linked to a modem and information from them is then downloaded to the village office, which cuts out the need for a meter reader.

Mayor Magee said that this type of meter sounded very expensive.

“The cost was determined to be prohibitive to install water meters and also that it would probably cost small businesses more [for water] with them,” added Councillor Quentin Beach.

Sheryl Worthing, village chief administrative officer said that there is a permissive tax exemption available for not for profit businesses in the community however the Canadian Cancer Society don’t qualify as they don’t own the building they occupy.

Permissive tax exemptions are offered as a way for the municipality to support not for profit organizations in the community.

Worthing later said to Lakes District News that the utilities invoice received by Anda Management Ltd. is typical of the invoice that goes out to all local businesses.

“Rates are based on the annual utility rates set by village council,” she said.

“The invoice has not been adjusted from the previous owners as the rates are simply calculated using the annual rate set by council. Rates are tied to the building, not the ownership of the building,” she added.

During the meeting, Worthing suggested that staff could re-look at the cost of purchasing water meters and other costs that would be attributed to them and bring the information back to council before a decision was made.

Councillors declined the request to reduce Anda Management’s utility rates and voted unanimously on the motion for village staff to look further into the costs of water meters.