The water, sewer, garbage, and recycling services provided by the Municipality of Jasper are funded through user fees, which are set under the Utility Fees Bylaw.
This process is separate from the property tax funded portion of the budget, however, is directly linked to the service levels and capital expenses related to operating the services. In the approved 2022 budget total utility expenses equaled $3,886,059.
This page is updated on a regular basis based on questions and feedback we receive from Jasper residents.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why are my bills going up?
Utility rates have increased in order to increase the amount of money available to address the ‘infrastructure deficit’ in maintaining Jasper’s water and wastewater infrastructure.
2. What is an ‘infrastructure deficit’?
The term ‘infrastructure deficit’ refers to the difference between the infrastructure investment needed and the financial resources made available to address that need.
3. Why do we have an ‘infrastructure deficit’?
Jasper’s 2017 Asset Management Study determined that the value of our water and wastewater infrastructure was $123.6 million dollars ($141.3 million in 2022). The study recommended that maintaining these physical assets required an annual investment of approximately $1.67 million every year in our water and wastewater infrastructure.
As shown below, annual capital investments in our water and wastewater systems have consistently been under the threshold recommended in the study.
This gap between what we have been investing and the recommended level of investment demonstrates our infrastructure deficit.
4. What happens if we don’t address the infrastructure deficit?
If infrastructure is not adequately maintained and renewed it becomes more prone to failure over time as components age. In a water and wastewater system these failures can lead to reduced system reliability, more frequent service interruptions and potential safety or environmental risks.
5. What is the new utility rate model?
At the start of 2022 utility billings began to be assessed based on a new rate model that is being referred to as the ‘CCC Rate model’.
The CCC rate model incorporates three distinct components: Connection, Consumption, and Capital in determining a customer’s billing.
6. What are these extra charges going towards?
The 2022 Consumption, Connection and Capital Rates Model will provide the revenue required to operate the municipal water and wastewater systems.
The separate Capital charge on utility bills is intended to ensure residents that the extra charges are going directly towards capital infrastructure replacement.
During budget conversations this coming November, residents will notice a new budget line called “capital revenue from utility bills” and will be able to see the exact amount of dollars collected to date in 2022, and what infrastructure assets will be replaced to updated with that money.
7. How is this model different than the previous billing system?
The previous model was referred to as a ‘Flat-Rate’ billing model where customers pay a rate based on the volume of water they consume; these are known as water charges.
The same measure is also used to place a value on the wastewater that returns to the treatment plant for processing, these charges are known as sewer charges.
8. Under the old system how high would rates have to be to collect the same amount of money?
To generate the revenue required to fund utility expenses in 2022 rates under the flat-rate model, rates would have to increase to $1.96/m3 for water and $3.52/m3 for sewer. As shown below this would have a modest impact on low volume consumers (increase of $178.80/yr) and a much larger impact on high volume consumers (increase of $13,794.42/yr).
9. How does the CCC system encourage water conservation?
Tiered consumption rates encourage conservation by providing financial motivation for large volume consumers to take active steps to reduce water consumption.
10. Can/when will the model be reviewed?
Jasper Municipal Council will review the CCC rate model in November, after 4 utility billing cycles.
11. Can the model be changed?
Yes. Council will determine this during the review in November.
12. Are we doing too much too soon (are we doing it all at once?)
The CCC rate model is a five-year plan, which means that we are incorporating and increasing the capital charges gradually over five years. The below chart explains the expected increases over the next five years.
13. How long will this last?
As of right now, the CCC rate model will be phased in over the next 5 years as described above and would continue the be the method of calculating customer billings going forward.
14. When did Council decide to make this change?
During Budget discussions in 2020, Council and Administration discussed potential changes to the water and sewer rate model to distribute the costs of providing services more equitably between users, while also enabling increased capital reinvestment in maintaining the system. At that time, Council directed Administration to provide options for different rate models at a later date.
In June of 2021 (click here to review agenda) committee reviewed the concept of moving away from flat-rate billing and toward a model with three different component charges: Base System Access, Tiered Consumption, and Infrastructure Replacement. Discussion at committee suggested the names could be simplified to: Connection, Consumption and Capital (CCC Rate model). Committee directed Administration to bring forward a report discussing the implications of the relative weighting between them.
In January (click here to review agenda) Council reviewed the CCC Rate model and provided administration with further input into the design of the model.
15. How do I know that the money collected for capital is being spent on capital?
During budget conversations this coming November, residents will notice a new budget line called “capital revenue from utility bills” and will be able to see the exact amount of dollars collected to date in 2022, and what infrastructure assets will be replaced or improved with that money.
Additionally, administration intends to propose to council a Utility Capital Reserve policy that would govern the collection, and use of monies collected through the Capital charge.
16. How can I provide feedback on the model?
We appreciate there may be many other questions about the utility rate model, and if you have a question you may not be the only one. Use the form below submit your questions so we can continue to add to these frequently asked questions. Alternatively, you can email UtilityRatesFAQs@jasper-alberta.ca