Narrow 4-3 vote means landowners along pipeline
have to pay
By Liz Dadson
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If you own property along the Kincardine lakeshore drinking water pipeline and have not yet connected, you will have to pay a $7,200 connection fee even if you don't hook up to the system.
While that decision was made last fall, Wednesday night (April 9), in committee-of-the-whole, treasurer Roxana Baumann brought forward amendments to the lakeshore water pipeline bylaw which layout the details of the process.
Nov. 6, 2013, council approved the mandatory payment only (no requirement to connect) for all properties along the pipeline which runs north of the Kincardine hospital to Inverhuron Provincial Park.
These payments will finally retire the $1.5-million pipeline debt which has haunted council for the past decade.
In her report Wednesday night, Baumann noted that the mandatory payment, to be implemented July 2, will be a base charge of $5,802 plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of $1,158.61 which equals a total capital charge of $7,260.61.
The mandatory payment of the fire capital charge equals $379 plus CPI of $75.68 for a total of $454.68.
Property owners who connected to the pipeline between 2005 and July, 2014, will receive a refund of the premium charge.
Landowners have the option of paying the $7,260.61 capital charge in a lump-sum or by financing the amount over a 10-year period through the municipality.
Physical connection to the water system is optional, allowing property owners to continue using private wells.
Baumann said that after discussions with several property owners concerning the applicability of this bylaw to farmland, it was decided that any property assessed under the Farm Property Class and without a dwelling, meaning it is not assessed under the Residential Tax Class, would be exempt from the capital charge.
Of the remaining 245 properties, for which the pipeline and fire capital charge remain unpaid, 13 qualify for the farm properties exemption, said Baumann. This results in $83,504 of the total stranded debt that would not be repaid.
If all remaining properties pay the mandatory capital charge of $7,260.61 and the fire charge of $454.68, and the total premiums paid of $66,103 is refunded to 23 property owners, this would generate $1,718,814, said Baumann. That is enough to cover the stranded debt amount of $1,493,711, as of Dec. 31, 2013.
The excess $225,103 would replenish the water reserve funds.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said she cannot move ahead with this, given the historical fact that Kincardine council told these people they would not have to pay if they supported the building of the pipeline.
"The agreement made 10 years ago was a mistake at the time," she said. "In order to get the pipeline built, you had to have an agreement, so council told people they would not have to pay or connect."
She said council is still unsure what Parks Ontario paid for the connections in Inverhuron Provincial Park.
"Would the pipeline have been extended so far except for the water needs at the park?" asked Faubert. "We have money in reserves to pay this debt off. Then let future development put the money back into those reserves."
"The reason the water reserves are so good is that users pay the fees for that system," said councillor Maureen Couture. "Council has struggled with this debt since 2001. That's 13 years ago; it has to be addressed now.
"I'm tired of this being brought forward over and over. We should amend the bylaw the way the treasurer has outlined. Either we deal with it tonight or not. And if not, then take it off the agenda and force the whole municipality to pay the debt for one area of taxpayers."
"I support this process," said councillor Kenneth Craig. "We've carried this outstanding debt for too long."
He said his only concern was the absence of councillor Randy Roppel who did not have the opportunity to make his views known.
"I do not support this (process)," said mayor Larry Kramer, "and I disagree with the whole concept that it was a mistake. It was the only way to get a pipeline built and it had to be done.
"The remaining capacity of the pipeline will adequately restore the funds taken from reserves. There's lots of opportunity to make the pipeline pay for itself."
Councillor Mike Leggett recommended deferring the decision to next month when Roppel would be able to attend.
"We would have to change the bylaw amendments then, with the proposed dates pushed back," said Baumann.
"I don't like to defer issues due to one councillor not being here," said deputy mayor Anne Eadie. "We have the quorum to make decisions."
Committee-of-the-whole recommended approval by a 4-3 recorded vote. Those in favour were Couture, Craig, Eadie and councillor Candy Hewitt, while those against were Faubert, Leggett and Kraemer. Roppel was absent, and councillor Ron Coristine has resigned.
In council session, the amendments to the bylaw were approved, again by a 4-3 recorded vote. Those in favour were Couture, Craig, Eadie and Hewitt, while those against were Faubert, Leggett and Kraemer.
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Sunday, April 13, 2014