Backgrounder – Wastewater Management Fee

Urban Services in East Hants

In East Hants, the corridor from Shubenacadie to Enfield is serviced by streetlights, sidewalks, hydrants (except Milford) and wastewater. Historically, these services have been billed through an Urban Service Rate as a property tax and billed as a rate per $100 of property tax assessment. With the exception of Milford, the East Hants Water Utility also services this area.

 

What is Wastewater?

Used interchangeably with the term “sewage”, wastewater is the mixture of “used’ water and materials that residents and businesses flush down drains, toilets, and sinks every day. This material travels from a serviced property and is pumped through a series of pipes through the wastewater collection system to one of the Municipality’s wastewater treatment facilities in Lantz, Milford and Shubenacadie. The wastewater is treated and returned to the environment through local water ways.

 

What is the Wastewater Management Fee?

In 2010, East Hants introduced a Wastewater Management Fee (WMF) to move the cost of wastewater service to a user pay charge instead of charging for it through property taxes. East Hants Council felt that moving to a consumption charge was a fair method of billing, ensuring wastewater services were being paid for by the people using the system. Billing for wastewater based on water consumption is consistent with many other municipalities across the country.

 

Facts about the Wastewater Management Fee (WMF):

  • The WMF was introduced in 2010 at $1.00 per 1,000 gallons of water used;
  • In 2018, the WMF is $8.00 per 1,000 gallons of water billed;
  • To avoid rate shock, the WMF will be increased by $1.00 per year, until the cost of providing the service is covered by the WMF and taken out of the amounts recovered through the Urban Service Rate (taxes) – Council kept the rate equal for 2017 to reduce the impact of new water rates.
  • Unlike the water utility rates, the WMF is not regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility & Review Board;
  • East Hants staff and Council strive to keep water and wastewater costs as low as possible while ensuring environmental compliance in two highly regulated industries.

 

Wastewater Management Fee – Impact on the Urban Service Rate:

  • The Urban Service Rate, which included the full cost of wastewater prior to 2010, has been reduced by 70% since 2010 to account for the revenue generated through the WMF;
  • In 2009, prior to the implementation of the WMF, the residential Urban Service Rate was $0.302 per $100 of assessment; today the same rate is $0.09 per $100 of assessment;
  • The commercial Urban Service Rate in 2009 was $1.17 per $100 of commercial assessment, this has been reduced to $0.76 per $100 of assessment;
  • Milford is not serviced by the Water Utility and therefore can not pay a wastewater consumption charge. Milford continues to pay for wastewater services entirely through the tax billing process with a higher Urban Service Rate than other areas.

 

Wastewater Management Fee – Impact on Homeowners:

Depending on your individual circumstance (the assessment value of your home and water usage), the WMF may result in savings for your household or in an increased cost of service. Council felt the charge based on water usage is more in keeping with value of service received. To demonstrate the impact of this change, a few scenarios are demonstrated below:

 

Scenario 1:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $300,000 home, we use 10,000 gallons of water per quarter

2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $906

2018 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $320 WMF) = $590

Total Savings with Wastewater Management Fee = $316 per year

 

Scenario 2:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $200,000 home, we use 10,000 gallons of water per quarter

2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $604

2018 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $320 WMF) = $500

Total Savings with Wastewater Management Fee = $104 per year

 

Scenario 3:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $200,000 home, we use 22,000 gallons of water per quarter

2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $604

2018 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $704 WMF) = $884

Total Additional Cost with Wastewater Management Fee = $280 per year

 

2018 – Impact of Water Consumption and Property Assessment on Tax Burden

The slides below demonstrate the 2018 impact of the Wastewater Management Fee on the overall tax burden of various homes and businesses. In general, higher assessed properties with less water consumption will see savings in their overall tax burden (taxes and WMF added together). If you are a heavy water user your overall tax burden may be higher or lower than under the old system, depending on your consumption and your property assessment.

 

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