LANCASTER – South Glengarry council has agreed to a water bill forgiveness policy, one council member described as a “get out of jail free card.”
The high water bill adjustment program will allow the township to perform a one-time write off of an abnormally high water bill.
Residents will be allowed to access the program “one in a lifetime” for the owner of a particular address in South Glengarry. When a house is sold to someone else, the one-time forgiveness resets.
Since it was brought to council’s attention last year, the majority of councillors felt the program should be retroactive to the start of their term – December 2018.
There will be five water users who will benefit immediately, which will cost the township $7,000.
The new policy is based on North Glengarry’s existing policy it’s had since 2007.
“It gives us a little bit more flexibility…this is a nice adjustment for the water users, especially for events that are kind of one-offs. One water user, a toilet leaking, was actually $1,800 which is a hefty bill for somebody,” South Glengarry Corporate Services General Manager Lachlan McDonald told council Monday night.
Prior to this new policy, the township could only write-off 75 per cent of the sewer portion and give the user six months to pay interest-free if it was proven the water didn’t return into the system. “But that’s not a big respite when you’re ever low income. I think it’s a great move going forward.”
“I think that’s entirely fair and the costs, if it was applied to our term of council, I think it makes sense,” Coun. Stephanie Jaworski said.
The amount of the bill that can be forgiven is unlimited, though staff estimate the township’s exposure is “realistically” $500 to $5,000 per year.