‘A really good deal’: Flat rate commercial Cornwall water customers partially subsidizing metered users, city staff say

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – As the City of Cornwall dives into conducting a water meter study for residential customers, city brass suggest another sector within the municipality already on water meters, is being subsidized by flat rate customers.

The City of Cornwall has about 1,000 or more industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) accounts. Those are places like businesses, schools and distribution centers. There are 310 of those customers on water meters. The rest are charged a flat rate – the same as households are charged now.

“When we look at our metered customers it looks like they’re getting a really good deal and maybe be partially subsidized by our fixed (rate) customers,” CFO Tracey Bailey told council Monday night.

Municipal Works Division Manager Bill de Wit says there are “disparities” in their rate system in the ICI sector, which will have to be addressed through the rate study which will also look at the household meters.

Commercial water users on a meter are paying $11,260 for 10,000 cubic meters of water, a rate that Coun. Eric Bergeron calls “shockingly” low.

Compare that to Brockville where commercial customers pay more than double Cornwall’s rate at $24,802. North Bay is at $29,864 and Belleville at $30,778 for 10,000 cubic meters.

Staff also say if the city loses a commercial user when a business suddenly closes, the rest of the burden is passed on to all customers including residential.