In 2018 a number of home owners in Kawartha Lakes serviced by their own wells and/or septic systems, received a letter from the city stating that because their property was adjacent to or close by a city water line they would still be charged a flat water rate of approximately $400 for the year.
Those affected protested to council and after council discussion Councillors Pat Dunn, Ron Ashmore and Emmett Yeo agreed that it was wrong to charge people who had their own wells and charge for City water simply because they were near a city water line. However, Mayor Andy Letham and the five remaining councillors voted to keep this charge for city water in place.
They did compromise by reducing this mandatory water billing to $200 instead of $400 per year, simply confirming to everyone that the mandatory water charge was wrong or it would not have been lowered.
Mayor Letham has tried to justify this wrongful charge by stating that just as we all pay property taxes and those taxes are spent on costs that the individual may not need or use, so the mandatory water billing should be paid even though the individual did not need or use city water.
The following differences between the two charges were pointed out. First, property taxes are paid based on the evaluation of property; secondly, water is a utility or service and the amount paid for that service is based on the cost of maintaining the infrastructure required to supply that water as well as the amount of water used per household.
In late 2019, with costs rising and many of those affected by this policy being seniors on fixed incomes a group called “Coalition Of Citizens Against Unlawful Water Billing” was formed to try and get this water charge stopped. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic any plans to gain public support were put on hold. In the meantime, the city decided that when homeowners affected by this policy refused to pay these wrongful water charges, the amount would be added to the person’s property tax bill with interest being charged on the unpaid amount.
Then, even when the individual paid their property taxes in full but did not pay the added on water charge, their taxes can be said to be in arrears because the wrongful water charge had been added to and counted as property taxes!
We believe that these actions taken by the city are wrong and we ask the public to contact their councillor asking that council stop these water charges and billing.
Paul Grassie, Lindsay
Coalition of Citizens Against Unlawful Water Billing