Greater Napanee Town Council held a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023 to discuss the Draft 2024 Utilities Budget, which was presented to them by Kristie Kelly, Director of Environmental Services.
Town staff recommended that Council support a three per cent water and sewer bill rate increase to base and consumption charges. The proposed increase is based on current inflationary costs.
This increase would be applied to all other service fees within the current rate schedule, unless otherwise noted. Kelly said that the bimonthly financial impact on the average customer would be a $6.08 increase. Currently, the average customer uses 24.5 cubic metres of water and pays a $213.94 average bimonthly bill.
“Our proposed 2024 budget is expected to remain debt-free while continuing to provide adequate financial resources to undertake some substantial capital work,” Kelly said, noting that this includes the construction of the new expansion of the wastewater plant, phase one and part of phase two.
The projected revenue for 2023 is expected to be approximately $209,000 over budget by the end of the year.
The projected year end expenditures for 2023 are higher than budgeted by approximately $40,000, Kelly noted, saying, “this is us estimating chemical purchases and that sort of thing till the remainder of the year. So that might fluctuate.”
The utilities reserve balances, she said, “are and continue to be at an all-time high, totalling almost $12.8 million.”
Kelly explained that the Town had secured $14 million in funding from the Government of Canada for the wastewater plant expansion: “We expect by the end of this year to use $2.4 million of that; and in 2024 for that budget, $2.7 million; and the remainder of that $14 million, probably into 2025 and 26. We’ve also secured provincial funding, which is specific to improving our discharges of wastewater and stormwater… into Lake Ontario.”
She noted that Napanee water and sewer rates “remain fairly competitive with other local municipalities.”
Taking some time to discuss one of the biggest expenditures in the current budget, the Napanee Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) expansion, Kelly explained that it is moving forward, first with the construction of a maintenance garage this year as phase one of the project. Phase two, she said, is in “the detailed design phase.”
“In early 2024, we expect to complete the detailed design and provide Council with a financing strategy for that next stage,” Kelly continued. “Based on current schedules, it looks like we could be in a position to break ground for that phase two in late 2024… We’ve secured $14 million in federal funding, but we continue to pursue that funding at a federal or provincial level.”
The Napanee Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) is located at 300 Water Street W., Napanee, Ontario. It was originally constructed in 1953 and was upgraded to the present-day secondary treatment process in 1978. Based on current design standards, the Napanee WPCP presently serves approximately 2,000 (or 30 per cent) more people than it was designed to serve when the last capacity upgrade was completed 45 years ago.
According to a town release on the subject, flow reduction and equipment maintenance programs have extended the life of the plant and have decreased average annual flows. However, extreme weather, community growth, and outdated equipment continue to result in frequent process bypassing and increased operating costs. Although maintained throughout the years, the buildings, process tanks, and mechanical and electrical equipment are nearing the end of expected service life and require refurbishing or replacement. The facility fails to meet current design guidelines due to a lack of redundancy, limited operability due to deficient flow measurement, and various other safety-related concerns.
The Town also noted that the upgrade to the facility is required “to meet projected development needs for the next 20-30 years while aligning with the environmental recovery goals of the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan.”
Kelly stated that the town currently has 3,563 water and sewer customers, 88 per cent of whom are residential users, who “account for approximately 59 per cent of our billed water revenue.”
Councillor Dave Pinnell said he would like to see some further breakdowns of the presented costs, and it was decided there would be further presentations on the budget at upcoming council meetings.
Council voted to note and receive the Draft Utilities Budget, with the understanding that some parts would be further expanded upon at Council’s December 19, 2023 meeting.
Members of the public can watch Kelly’s full presentation to Napanee Council by visiting the November 2 meeting link on the Town’s YouTube Channel, or read her presentation and the draft budget document online.