Sewer and Water Rates
Res #: 3-06M
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Government Relations
Resolution No. 3-06M
WHEREAS, the implementation of The Municipalities Act has been heralded as a major step forward in granting local autonomy for decisions made by local municipal councils; and
WHEREAS, section 23(3) of The Municipalities Act limits the authority for municipal councils to establish local water and sewer rates and requires the approval of the Saskatchewan Municipal Board, which is a non-elected, non-accountable, Provincially appointed board; and
WHEREAS, Section 23(4) of The Municipalities Act grants authority to the Saskatchewan Municipal Board to unilaterally vary water and sewer rates as it sees fit;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that sections 23(3) and 23(4) of The Municipalities Act be repealed.
Response from Honourable Harry Van Mulligen, Minister of Government Relations:
- The Municipalities Act (MA) was developed in partnership with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and both municipal administrator associations. The MA provides broader powers to rural and urban municipalities and is consistent between urban and rural municipalities, where possible. Approval of water and sewer rates by the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) was a requirement under The Urban Municipalities Act, 1984 and applied to all towns and villages. The MA now includes smaller communities, such as hamlets and organized hamlets, in rural municipalities.
- During the development of the MA, there were discussions with the SMB regarding its role. SMB’s review and approval of municipal water and sewer rates complements and supports its review and approval of municipal borrowing. The SMB plays the role of financial watch dog for smaller municipalities.
- Under the MA, the SMB examines and approves water and sewer rates for towns, villages and smaller communities in rural municipalities to ensure they cover operating costs and debt repayment, so that these systems are financially sustainable. The SMB is also available to provide advice on developing rates for municipal water and sewer systems.
- SMB’s review of water and sewer rates and expert advice helps municipalities ensure their water systems provide safe drinking water to their residents and their sewer systems do not contaminate surrounding areas and water sources.
- Smaller communities in rural municipalities will benefit from SMB’s review of, and advice on, water and sewer rates, as towns and villages have in the past.