If you pay for Coquitlam sewer services, you may get a shock when you open your utility bill later this month.
Last year, city council changed the sewer parcel tax, due in early July as part of the property tax bill, to a new sewer use fee now due March 31 with the annual utility bill.
That means Coquitlam homeowners expecting to pay their flat rate of $502 in July will be charged next month instead. The suite rate is $201.
On Monday (Feb. 7), council unanimously gave three bylaw readings — without discussion — to soften the blow, allowing the five per cent penalty for non-payment of utilities to be put off until July 5, the day after property taxes are due.
But the delay is good for 2022 only, giving homeowners time to adjust to the change.
The city plans to communicate its message soon as utility bills are set to be mailed out at the end of the month.
According to a report last fall from Jaime Boan, Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works, the change allows:
- the city to consolidate more of the utility charges onto one bill
- cuts administration
- allows for more transparency on the impact of sewer rate increases by Metro Vancouver
In the past, sewer parcel taxes were used to recover the initial capital costs for new sewer construction; however, development cost charges (DCC) are now used for that purpose.
Boan wrote most Lower Mainland municipalities have switched to the sewer use fee and have added it to the annual utility bill.
As well, “a sewer use fee would enable future implementation of tiered flat rates for single-family and multi-family sewer customers, which better aligns the fee with estimated consumption or use of this service,” he stated.
Boan also noted the change means Coquitlam property owners can’t put off their sewer charges if they’re on the property tax deferment program (as the fees won’t be on the property bill).
About 2,100 customers are participating in the property tax deferral program.
A utility pre-payment plan is available where utility fees can be paid by instalments over a six-month period, he wrote.