Council nixes seniors utility bill break

Port Alberni senior citizens who own homes won’t be getting a break on their municipal utility bills.

Senior citizens who own homes in Port Alberni won’t be getting a break on their utility bills.

City council voted 6-1 against a move that would see senior homeowners receive a five per cent discount.

“If we do this then we have to give it to others too who can’t afford it. I don’t think it’s fair,” said Coun. Cindy Solda, who voted against it. “I want it too but it’s not happening right now.”

The idea of a seniors’ reduction was posed in November. The proposed decrease would be to the fixed costs of water, sewer and garbage and not to the consumption fee.

The idea was put over to budget discussions, and was re-opened again by Coun. Hira Chopra.

Residents are charged various rates for utilities. A flat rate is charged for water meters, and further charges are based on consumption. And a flat rate for sewer services is charged for residential dwellings, while other users are charged according to consumption.

Council is making good on its pledge to discuss the matter, Chopra said. A seniors’ discount would be a good draw for seniors considering making the Valley their home.

Council is forever “whining, screaming and fussing” about raising taxes “and you’re the biggest yeller,” Coun. Jack McLeman said to Chopra. McLeman said he would entertain discussion about a reduction based on income levels to include others who need it.

Council is trying to trim the budget down to what residents can live with, Coun. Dan Washington said. “If we trim five per cent it’s just going to come back and bite us somewhere else.”

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