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Understanding User Fees, Rates and Charges

Residents and stakeholders rely on the municipality to provide a wide variety of programs, services and infrastructure. To support the services that contribute to quality of life in the region, the municipality depends on revenue from property taxes and user fees, rates and charges. Although municipal services are typically available to everyone, the costs of services are recovered by different forms of revenue that are determined by the type of service. 

1) Fully Tax Supported – Fire, Police, Roads, Parks
2) Partial Tax / Partial User Fee Supported – Transit, Recreational Facilities
3) Fully User Fee Supported – Utilities, Licenses

User fees, rates and charges are paid by the residents who directly use and benefit from municipal services that are not fully supported by tax dollars. Charging these fees to the individual user helps the municipality recover some or all of the direct costs associated with providing the service. 

RMWB user fees, rates and charges

On June 28, 2017, Council adopted the proposed amendment to the Utility Rates Bylaw No. 10/001, which included a 10% increase to utility fees, as of September 1, 2017. This increase was the first-time utility fees had been adjusted in over 10 years.  

In 2018, the municipality conducted a comprehensive cost analysis and rate review that included benchmarking RMWB rates to other Alberta municipalities. This analysis revealed that many user fees, rates and charges are not covering the costs to provide the service and are being supported by tax dollars. It also revealed that RMWB rates are on average 25% less than other Albertan municipalities. You may view the benchmarking results here. 

On Oct. 22, 2019, a public hearing will be held for the creation of a new Fees, Rates and Charges Bylaw (No. 19/024). This bylaw includes updates to user fees, rates and charges for municipal services, such as utilities, transit, landfill disposal, permits and recreation activities. The rate changes, which are being proposed to take effect January 1, 2020, vary depending on the municipal service, with some user rates staying the same, others increasing and most rates remaining significantly below provincial averages. To avoid any impact on current and upcoming fall and winter sport seasons, updated rates for municipal services used for these programs are being proposed to take effect July 1, 2020. You may view the proposed user fees, rates and charges here


Updates to user fees, rates and charges are proposed to take effect: January 1, 2020 

FAQ 

Are increases being proposed for all municipal fees, rates and charges? And how much are the increases?  
No. The rate changes vary depending on the municipal service, with some user rates staying the same, others increasing and most rates remaining significantly below provincial averages. The average increase to the adjusted rates is 17%.You may view the proposed user fees, rates and charges here. 

When are the proposed updates to fees, rates and charges scheduled to be implemented?
The majority of the fees, rates and charges that are proposed to change are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020. To avoid any impact on current and upcoming fall and winter sport seasons, updated rates for municipal services used for these programs are being proposed to take effect July 1, 2020.

Why are updates to user fees, rates and charges being proposed? 
The rates the RMWB has been offering for municipal services that charge a user fee are highly discounted and no longer sustainable.  These rates are far below what our operational costs are and on average 25% lower than other Albertan municipalities. Adjustments are needed to ensure the direct user is paying the appropriate fee for these services, while reducing the subsidy from the municipal tax base. With the exception of a utility rate increase in 2017, user fees for municipal services have not been adjusted in over 10 years.

The adjustments to user fees, rates and charges are aligned with the municipality’s commitment to fiscal responsibility in the 2018-2021 RMWB Strategic Plan. 

How will this impact municipal services? 
The services you rely on will continue to be provided without any disruptions. If Council approves the new Fees, Rates and Charges Bylaw, you will notice a rate increase starting in January 2020 for some municipal services, such as permitting, utilities or disposing of waste at the landfill. View the proposed user fees, rates and charges here. 

How were the proposed user fees, rates and charges determined? 
In 2018, the municipality conducted an extensive rate review and cost analysis. The review determined the cost associated with providing municipal services far exceeded the fees being charged to the direct user of the service. The review also compared the user rates and fees from other Albertan municipalities and determined the RMWB’s user fees, rates and charges are approximately 25% lower than other jurisdictions.  

Will user fees, rates, and charges continue to increase? 
User fees, rates and charges will be subject to change. The RMWB remains committed to fiscal responsibility and establishing a direct cost recovery model for utilities. Further updates will be required as we continue to improve how municipal services are balanced with tax dollars and work on strategies to support the services you rely on for years to come.   

What municipal services charge user fees? 
Municipal services can be classified into three categories based on who benefits from using the service. A user fee is charged on services that are classified as having a private benefit or mixed benefit. 

Public Benefit – Where a user fee or charge benefits the public, the value for the service should be fully subsidized from the municipality’s general revenue. Examples include Regional Emergency Services, police, roads, and parks.  

Mixed Benefit – Where a user fee or charge benefits the public, as well as specific individuals, groups or businesses, they should be charged a proportional value for the service, and partial subsidization from the municipality’s general revenue should occur. Examples include transit and recreational facilities.

Private Benefit – Where a user fee or charge benefits specific individuals, groups or businesses, they should be charged the full value for the service, and no subsidization from the municipality’s general revenue should occur. Examples include utilities and licenses.

For further information, please contact PULSE at 780-743-7000 or rmwb.ca/pulse 

 

All Winter Maintenance Zones are relaxed until further notice.