Utility billings change

Houston utility billings will change to quarterly on Jan. 1, 2014

Utility billings will change over the next year and a half to a system of quarterly payments only.

Council plans to change utility billings to a quarterly system, effective Jan. 1, 2014, to simplify the system.

The present system is a complicated mixture of both annual and quarterly payments, says Director of Finance Tandra Bamsey.

“Most municipalities don’t have both annual and quarterly,” Bamsey said, “but we have some customers that are on annual for say garbage and sewer, and quarterly for water. And it is a very cumbersome system.”

It’s especially complicated when property’s change hands, as people owe some on the annual system and some quarterly, Bamsey added.

The current system has a early payment discount of four per cent, and seniors get an additional 20 per cent off for early payment, said Bamsey.

Under the quarterly system these discounts would be removed, said Linda Poznikoff, Chief Administrative Officer, and it would save the district around $30,000 a year.

She said other municipalities have already done this.

Smithers has phased out the senior discounts and Hazelton is considering that option as well, said Bamsey.

Other municipalities have removed the senior discounts because they believe that the service they provide is something everybody should pay for, said Poznikoff.

The water rates for seniors are already lower than the rest of residential, added Bansey.

Shane Brienen also notes that according to Stats Canada, there are more Canadians over 40 than under.

“So we are going to run into this problem where, if we’re giving senior discounts it’s not just ten or 15 or 20 percent [of the population] you know?” said Brienen. “It’s climbing upwards.”

The quarterly system will be not only be more sustainable as the population ages, but it can tie all of the utilities together to make things easier, said Brienen.

“It would be easier long-term,” said Bamsey.

 

 

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