Septage: The Bill Arrives

Updated June 21
The 2,935 Mississippi Mills homes on septic systems have started receiving bills for a one-time levy on their final tax bill of $115. It is to pay the capital cost of the septage treatment component of the new wastewater treatment plant. The plant is not yet taking in local septage but has external customers to help pay its operating costs..

The levy would have been a tad more. The hydro revenue sharing agreement, which I co-authored, passed last year and applied $52,800 of the 2012 hydro revenues to the septage plant capital cost and shaved $18 off the levy. It is more symbolic than substantial, but the best we could do when faced with the septage plant bill.

The total cost of the septage component is $1,424,230. Of that, the feds and province contributed $949,490. Another $84,445 comes from development charges in the rural wards. When you subtract the shared hydro revenue, we are left with $337,485. That will be covered by the levy.

I have worried since 2009 (before my start on Council) that the septage plant could be a financial failure, a white elephant, because no regulation requires septage haulers to use it. Until such a regulation exists—and the town has requested such from the province multiple times—the plant could sit idle, collect no tipping fees and cost an estimated $10,000 yearly in maintenance.

Fortunately, our Director of Roads and Public Works, Troy Dunlop arranged a contract to with Cobden to process three loads of septage material per month for annual revenues of $14,000.

The rural share of the 2013 hydro revenues will be put in a reserve fund to be used to cover operating costs of the septage treatment plant in years when the town collects little or no tipping fees. If not needed, Council may move it to general reserves.