COQUITLAM, BC, Feb. 10, 2022 – Starting this year, Coquitlam property owners can expect to see City sewer fees included in their annual utility bills delivered in early March.
To bring more fairness and clarity to its sewer billing, Coquitlam has changed its former sewer parcel tax – a flat fee billed with property taxes – to a user fee, like its water utility. The sewer fees will no longer be included on the property tax notice.
The change won’t increase the City’s overall sewer revenues. The only difference for most homeowners will be paying in the early spring rather than early summer, while metered users (businesses and institutions) pay based on what they use. Most cities bill for utilities in this way and Coquitlam is one of the last communities in Metro Vancouver to adopt this practice.
Making Fees More Transparent and Fair
The City reviews water and sewer fees annually during the budget process to ensure each year’s rates cover the cost of operating and delivering the service. The new fee structure will continue to raise only the revenue needed to cover costs, while providing taxpayers with more clarity about what they are paying for and aligning the sewer payment with the payment for other user fees such as water and garbage.
For 2022, the sewer fee on most residential utility bills will be the same to what households would have otherwise paid on their tax bill.
For business and institutional properties, which are metered, customers with lower use will pay less while those with higher use will pay their fair share. Previously, metered sites paid the flat fee plus metered charges, which didn’t fully account for the amount of use.
The change to a user-pay system also provides for more efficient billing.
Late Payment Fee Deferred to Assist with Transition
Coquitlam property owners will see a four per cent increase for both their water and sewer/drainage fees for 2022. These increases reflect rising utility costs, including regional increases related to the expanded capital infrastructure and are not related to the billing change.
To help with the transition to the earlier sewer billing date in 2022, the City has deferred the first utility bill late payment fee of five per cent from accounts unpaid after March 31 to July 4, to align with the first late fee for property taxes. While residents are encouraged to pay on time if they can, the deferred late fee will assist those who need more time to pay all or a portion of their 2022 utility bill.
The City also has a Utilities Instalment Plan available for your 2023 Utility Bill. This plan splits the bill into six pre-authorized payments for those who want to pay in smaller, more manageable amounts over the course of a year. The first withdrawal for 2023 utility bills is on Aug. 1.
More information about this year’s utility bill changes and a link to the instalment plan can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/utility.