Original Published on Aug 14, 2022 at 21:12

By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Woodstock residents may soon experience significant changes in how they pay for town water.

During the Aug 9 regular council session, Geraldine Campbell, an accounts receivable administrative staff member, delivered a presentation overviewing the benefits of the town replacing its current metering system with a levy flat rate system for residential customers. Most businesses, with some exceptions, would remain on a metered system. 

The PowerPoint presentation is available on the town of Woodstock website. 

Campbell’s presentation follows a recent efficiency overview of the town’s water and sewer billing structure. 

Improved staffing efficiency, significant cost savings and a more streamlined billing system for residents highlight the benefits of the levy system. 

Following the meeting, Woodstock CAO Andrew Garnett explained some residents would pay more and some less, depending on water usage. He added the final numbers are not available, but the study will deliver significant savings and vastly improved efficiency over the long term. 

During her presentation to council, Campbell explained that under the current metering system, the town would spend more than $400,000 in meters, admail, wages and lost time over the next three to five years. 

She explained that it currently takes three employees an average of six weeks to complete the metered semi-annual billing process. 

Campbell said water and sewer customers deliver the meter readings in various ways, including by phone, email or drop or mail the numbers to the town hall. Staff then face the long process of compiling those numbers on an Excel program before sending out individual bills. 

Campbell added meters cost approximately $300 each, and an estimated 1,300 would require replacement in the next three to five years. She added admail, postage and paper cost $7,000 per year. 

Campbell also outlined benefits to residents, including “no surprises” on the annual water bill. She added residents could pay in full within 30 days for an incentive discount, pay quarterly, or set up equalized monthly payments. 

Campbell said the town could direct savings to water and sewer upgrades.

She said the town set a goal to convince 80 per cent of customers to sign up for e-services, with the assistance of town staff, to improve savings and efficiency further. 

Campbell, Finance Director Kristen Pelkey and other staff will iron out details for the system and present them to council for a decision in the coming weeks.

This item reprinted with permission from River Valley Sun, Woodstock, New Brunswick