The public hearing and second and third reading of the updated water bylaw was cancelled Monday night, due to a mistake in the Council package.
Instead of giving a second and third reading of the bylaw, as well as hearing from the public, Council instead gave a first reading to a “new” bylaw, which is exactly the same as the last one with the same increases to the water flat rate, wastewater flat rate and wastewater collection rate.
Betty Osmond, chief administrative office with the Town, say the error was in the pack to Council, not in the report.
“The attachments do not have the correct numbers with the planned increase, and to be on the safe side we could not do a public hearing or final reading of the bylaw,” Osmond explained.
Instead, Council gave first reading to the bylaw under a new number. This bylaw is exactly the same as was proposed in November, and has the same increase in rates.
“It was a clerical error, where we just copied and paste from the old without updating,” said Osmond.
Having another first reading of the bylaw under a new heading is a safety precaution, according to Osmond. This way no one will be able to come back and use erroneous information against the bylaw.
Because of the mistake, and the process having to start over from the beginning, the increases will not go into effect for the beginning of the year.
Council will not be able to hold a public hearing nor give a second or third reading to the bylaw before the end of the year.
It was suggested to hold a special meeting before the end of the year, or within the first couple days of the new year.
This was thought of by administration, but ultimately shot down.
“It would land over a time that is considered to be holidays by many, and could be considered unfair and like we are trying to pass it without having people hear to give their input,” said Osmond.
The public hearing for the bylaw will be held at Council’s next meeting, which will be Jan. 8, 2018.
The delay in the process does mean a loss of revenue for the town, money which will stay in the pockets of the townspeople.
The revenue will be short roughly $56,000 from the delayed bylaw, according to Osmond.
“This is just to be on the safe side. We want to make sure this is done the right way,” Osmond said.
Any input received by the Town about the bylaw under it’s old number will not be lost, says Osmond.
The total monthly utility increase for an average property based on the new bylaw $28.40.
The public hearing, as well as final readings of the bylaw, will take place on Jan. 8 at 6 p.m., and the public is encouraged to attend the meeting.