The City of Estevan has decided to move forward with the new way of collecting utility rates. Previously, when work was done on water or sewer lines in front of a house, the homeowner was responsible for half of those costs and the City paid the remainder. Now, every homeowner will pay an extra $5 per month or $10 per billing cycle to create a fund from which the money will be drawn. This has upset some homeowners around Estevan who have already paid their share of the work completed and feeling they are being charged twice.
The Mayor read two letters from residents in this situation and they both suggested a rebate or reimbursement system.
"We're looking at roughly 680 properties that are involved that are in some stage of paying it or have paid it back over the years," explained Mayor Roy Ludwig. "I guess we'll be looking at something. Hopefully, the City Manager and his team will find that's fair and equitable and at the same time, meet the needs that we need moving forward."
"Because moving forward, most of the people who have not had an incident will be happy to realize that the City will shoulder the full cost of this. Whereas in the past, we were at 50/50 and before that, we were at 80/20. so we are making inroads and I think we're doing the right thing. It's just what to do to try and pick up and help out the people who have already paid."
However, it may be an uphill battle to try and find a way to provide rebates to those who have previously paid.
"I'm hoping our City Manager and his team will find out if they can do something. I know we probably won't please everybody but hopefully, we can find a solution and we'll see if they can arrive at that."
In regards to the two letters submitted to City Council, he thanked both the authors for their well-thought-out remarks.
"We do understand the concerns of our citizens in this area. The fact that they've already paid so they're looking at it as double dipping. Unfortunately, there comes a point in time when whenever you do this process, there's going to be people caught. There's always going to be people in that grey area who will have the argument, and rightly so, 'Well what about me? I paid.' So it is a tough decision."
Also discussed at City Council was the decision to reimburse the Estevan Minor Hockey Association the full amount they gave to the City to pay for a compressor at the now decommissioned Civic Auditorium.