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Without Prejudice: From The Citizens’ Council of Hamilton Township

What is the value of maintaining the existing investment in trained staff, direct accountability, quality infrastructure, financially sustainable, and internal control of a vital municipal service?

We would hope that Hamilton Township households that are connected to the municipal water supply, would soon be receiving a questionnaire or an invitation to a public meeting from Hamilton Township Council, to provide their input on how they want the water services provided in the future.

The six (6) month trial period granted by Council to “evaluate how the process works, and get a better handle on the actual costs” is coming to an end. It is doubtful that this six (6) month trial will provide the “apples to apples” comparison that Council desires since water revenues and expenses are seasonal. (Calendar year(s) is the only true analysis of the water department budget.)

The Citizens Council of Hamilton Township believes that the debate to contract out water services has thus far not clearly addressed all of the issues and urges all water customers to get informed and make your opinions known to Hamilton Township Council.

Some background;

In 2011, a water rate study was conducted in conjunction with the first Water Services Financial Plan (a requirement under Provincial legislation) and following public consultation was adopted by Council. The plan provided water users with known water rates increases over the life of the plan (to 2019), a rational and realistic repayment plan for the capital debt incurred as a result of the plant upgrades in 2005, and a reserve fund to address future capital requirements.

The recently updated Water Services Financial Plan (February 2016) by Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. has reaffirmed the original plan and water rate structure.

Why would you consider outsourcing an effective municipal service?

The treatment and delivery of drinking water is a “user pay” service with the system being fully funded by the 500-600 homes on the system through their water billing and other water service charges.

The majority of Hamilton Township ratepayers not on municipal water do not incur any costs or benefits of this service.

Hamilton Township water services are the envy of many small Ontario municipalities. Without the expertise, knowledge, and internal structures most municipalities have no viable recourse and are forced to contract out this service. Most find themselves “handcuffed” with escalating costs and few alternatives.

Beware: Potential “savings” will not result in lower water bills for users.

Remember: Contractors are concerned with their profits.