Most fees levied by the City of Brandon will increase by 2.5-4 per cent next year, including these notable increases. (GRANT HAMILTON/BRANDON SUN)
It will likely cost Brandonites more to license a pet, ride the bus, bury a loved one and go skating at the Sportsplex next year.
The city has released its proposed 2014 fee schedule, which sets the fees and surcharges levied on the many civic services and recreational opportunities offered to residents.
The schedule, which shows increases in the range of 2.5 to four per cent in most areas, was given first reading by city council earlier this week.
"We do our review of fees every year and the departments are asked to justify, or rationalize their fees," said city treasurer Dean Hammond. "As they’re doing that, then we ask them to look at comparators of similar fees in other centres."
Commercial refuse fees would increase from $51.50 to $60.00 per tonne if the schedule is passed.
Hammond said while this is a significant increase, generated revenues will be applied directly to the sanitation reserve to cover "substantial" future costs of maintaining a Class I landfill.
"Obviously maintaining a landfill as big as ours is a huge proposition," he said. "Basically, there’s the incremental costs there to cover the licensing and ongoing maintenance requirements of the landfill."
Hammond said one of the major upcoming projects will be to develop a plan for getting rid of the leachate, essentially the "toxic soup" that comes out of the bottom of the landfill.
"We have to come up with a process for treating that," Hammond said. "That will be a huge capital project … just one of many big projects that are coming up in the future that we have to pay for."
Under the public works section, a major increase is proposed for repairs to damaged infrastructure. It would rise by $388 per hour (from $153 to $541) plus materials. This is for construction companies that accidentally hit a city water or sewer main.
"Prior to this we weren’t basically charging enough," said Rod Sage, general manager of operations. "We were almost giving away the service, and if we’re going to try and be efficient and … prudent with our money and taxpayer dollars, we need to be recovering costs from someone who damages our infrastructure if they’re working in our right of way."
Sage said while an accident like this doesn’t happen too often, when it does it’s usually of a "severe" nature, and city crews typically are called in on overtime to fix the problem.
Sage said the increased fees highlight the importance of the "call before you dig" slogan.
"Get your clearances and make sure you know what’s there before you start digging a hole in the ground, because if you don’t, guess what? You’re going to be paying $541 an hour now plus materials for us to go out and fix it," Sage said.
Wheat City Golf Course green fees for 18 holes would remain the same at $33 (adult) and $25 (student), while nine-hole green fees would increase to $20 from $16.50 (adult) and to $16.50 from $12.50 (student).
Tennis court rates would stay the same at $7 daily rate, $120 adult season pass and $250 family season pass.
Most cemetery plots and surcharges have been increased by approximately five per cent in the proposed schedule.
Plots in the regular section of Brandon Municipal Cemetery would cost $1,526, up from last year’s $1,453.
A 30-day bus pass would cost $70 (up from $66) for adults, while youth/seniors would pay $40 (up from $38).
A new fee introduced in the 2014 schedule is the airport improvement fee. Effective Aug. 9, 2014, a fee of $5.35 would be levied on each commercial passenger departure.
The levy would be put into the airport reserve to fund future airport capital upgrades.
"Obviously the big one there is, we do need to do significant capital upgrades to the airport and support regular flights," Hammond said. "That obviously is where that money is going to go towards first."
Hammond said the city is working with WestJet, so the fee would be part of the ticketing price.
"Similar to when you fly out of Winnipeg or any other major Canadian city, it’s tacked onto your flight," Hammond said.
Meanwhile, the city is proposing slight, across-the-board increases at the Sportsplex. Monthly membership rates, which include swim, skate and racquetball, would be $57.25 for adults, up from $55.50.
Annual sterile dog or cat licences would cost $20, $3 more than in 2013. For unsterile pets, the licence would still cost $56.
The schedule of fees bylaw is on the Dec. 16 city council agenda for second and third reading.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 5, 2013