NEWS RELEASE

October 16, 2018

For Immediate Release

 

Motkaluk Commits to Investigating

Questionable Sewer & Water Rate Hikes

 

Vows to freeze sewer & water rates pending investigation results

Today – As mayor, Jenny Motkaluk would be committed to fair and transparent governance including strict oversight of how Winnipeggers are charged for sewer services. If elected, she will freeze sewer and water service rates until a comprehensive audit on both the financial and operations sides of the current system can be completed. An initial review of sewer service rates reveals that since 2015 rates have increased by 22.8% which translates into a cumulative additional revenue charge of $ 56.7 Million to Winnipeg taxpayers, ostensibly to pay for sewage treatment environmental upgrades. It appears that only a small percentage of the revenue obtained from these rate increases may actually have been spent on the suggested improvements.

Yet, since the mayor approved the sewer rate hikes in April 2016 only $15 million has been spent on the largest of those projects, representing just 2% of the entire project.

Jenny believes that if the city’s sewer and water utility is inappropriately and unfairly charging Winnipeggers for major projects that haven’t progressed then that practice needs to be stopped immediately.

“Unlike hydro rates, which must be approved by the Public Utilities Board, the sewer and water utility was permitted to hike these rates with virtually no accountability to the ratepayer,” claims Motkaluk, “and the mayor has evidently ignored the problem for four years by simply approving the rate hikes the department requested.

Motkaluk also believes that if the financial and operations audit on the utility exposes wrongdoing or overcharging, that customers should get their money back in the form of a credit on their accounts.

“Winnipeggers are unwittingly and unnecessarily being dinged with rate hikes for projects that aren’t progressing. It’s like the ‘sewer to nowhere’ scenario. It seems confusingly ironic that Brian Bowman can declare ‘our best days are here’ while sitting on millions of dollars of unspent budgets and unfinished sewer projects.

Despite the massive year over year service rate increases there has been no significant improvement in service and no mitigation of the alarming rate of raw sewage dumps into our rivers each year.

“The apparent mismanagement of sewer revenue is very concerning,” says Motkaluk… “we must freeze service rates and get to the bottom of this mess. The lack of oversight is costing us dearly.”

“Winnipeggers want a mayor who is more concerned about cutting costs than cutting ribbons. We can’t afford four more years of this kind of financial oversight and gouging of ratepayers.”

“Hiking sewer service rates without fully applying the revenue to a project should make all Winnipeggers wonder what else are we paying for and not getting?!”

 

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For more information, please contact:

David MacKay, Communications Director

Jenny for Mayor Campaign

Cell: 204-955-3714

 

 

Background
Year Sewer Service Rate ($ per cubic meter) Year over Year rate increase Cumulative Increase since 2015 Water Service Rate ($ per cubic meter) Year over Year rate increase Cumulative Increase since 2015
2018 2.80 9.8% 22.8% 1.82 2.2% 25.5%
2017 2.55 6.3% 11.8% 1.78 9.2% 22.8%
2016 2.40 5.3% 5.3% 1.63 12.4% 12.4%
2015 2.28 1.38-1.45

 

  • When EPC approved the recent sewer rate hikes, the nutrient removal upgrades to the North End Water Pollution Control Centre was 0.36% complete, based on the amount of its budget that had been spent.
  •        As of September 30, 2018, 2.24% of the budget for the nutrient removal upgrades had been spent.[1]
  • On September 14, Jenny pledged to prioritize the completion of those upgrades.

 

 

[1] Capital Expenditures Monthly Report as of September 30, 2018

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