Water rates may change in Antigonish

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ANTIGONISH: The town is looking to change its water rates.

On April 19, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hosted a public hearing regarding a request from the Town of Antigonish to amend the water rates and charges for water and water services in the town.

Gerry Isenor, who conducted the water rate study for the town and spoke at the hearing, said the basic request is to increase the water rates in order to cover the cost of depreciation more promptly and to compensate for reduced consumption on the system.

During the hearing, he said the utility is on the hook for an over-$300,000 accumulated deficit relating to water.

“The water utility owes that money to the town,” said Isenor. “It has to pay off its debts.”

When asked how the deficit reached $300,000, Isenor said it was a “correction in how they calculated depreciation, which was brought up at the last hearing.”

“There was some methodology being used that perhaps…outlived its usefulness back in the early 90s, and it wasn’t contributing enough money to replace the aging infrastructure,” he said.

Isenor said less usage is also contributing to less revenue.

“People are conserving more as households get smaller, and also water-using utensils get more efficient,” he said. “All of those things contribute to lower consumption per average customer.”

Following the request from the town, the board asked for an adjustment to the application in regard to the depreciation fund. The original application made a request to use a portion of the fund to pay down some of the capital debt. The board, said Isenor, felt this was inappropriate.

“Removing it was the [option] that was more expedient,” he said.

The board usually makes such decisions within 90 days of receiving final evidence.

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Antigonish native Matt Draper has been a photographer, reporter and columnist for The Reporter since 2003.