../Morning Post
Posted February 8, 2011

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Municipal Fees

User fees and charges increase at rate of inflation

KITCHENER – Kitchener’s finance and corporate services committee supported a plan that will increase most municipal user fees and charges by three per cent in 2011. Most fees are increasing at an inflationary amount.

This decision will result in an increase in city’s revenues of approximately $611,000, thereby reducing the potential 2011 property tax increase .64 per cent.

The fees, which will be approved by council on Feb. 14, will be effective beginning March 1.

"Whatever doesn’t come into the budget as a user fee has to go in as a tax impact," said Councillor John Gazzola, chair of the committee. "With user fees, you have a choice whether to use the service or program or not. With taxes, you don’t."

Funding for the leisure access card, which ensures that city recreation programs remain accessible for lower-income families, is being increased by 10 per cent in 2011 to offset the impacts of the fee increases on families with lower income.

Fee changes that differ from an inflationary increase, include:

Cemeteries

Fees are increasing between 3–15 per cent. These fees are based on comparable rate studies with other municipalities, including the City of Waterloo.

Golf

Green fees have been adjusted to account for economic conditions, competitive analysis and the desire to increase the number of rounds and membership revenues.

Fire – Propane Risk and Safety Management Plan Fees

The fire department is responsible for administering, reviewing and approving a risk and safety management plan all propane facilities are required to have under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, therefore requiring these new fees to recover their costs.

Human Resources

The firefighters’ recruitment administration fee has increased 24 per cent to $100. This is based on the cost of recruitment and testing as per the joint recruitment process the city participates in with Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph.

Operations – Sidewalk Snow-Clearing

Sidewalk snow-clearing fees have increased between 11-19 per cent, based on a five-year historical cost review. King Street sidewalks have increased in area due to the reconstruction project, resulting in a need to increase the fees accordingly.

Operations – Sports fields

The recommendation for 2011 is to charge the 2010 fee plus HST for sports fields, resulting in the 13 per cent increase. An increase of only six per cent is being recommended for optional services (ie. additional grooming/mowing for tournaments).

Sewer Connection Fees

Sewer connection fees, which are increasing on average about 25 per cent, are charged when property owners request servicing from the city as part of a development of their site. This may include the installation of underground pipes from their property to the city's water, stormwater or wastewater systems. 

Parking

This item was deferred for further discussion until council meets on Monday, Feb. 14, so staff can gather more information.

Monthly parking fees are scheduled to increase 10 per cent to recover the development and operating costs of parking structures and to encourage alternate means of travel such as transit or carpooling. This is consistent with the recommendations of the parking master plan and the recently-approved enterprise business case.

When setting individual rates, city departments consider a range of factors including cost recovery, legislation, rates of other municipalities and market conditions.

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