Variable charges cause for dispute between towns

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We are writing in response to your article ‘Burin looks to cut water service to Lewin’s Cove’, which appeared in your paper Aug. 21, 2012.

Editor;

There are several points we would like to take the opportunity to clarify. The cause of the dispute between the Towns of Lewin’s Cove and Burin with regard to billing for water is not the $11,250 we were billed in 2009; rather, it is the fact our bills have fluctuated wildly over the past 10 years, ranging from $17,973.12 in 2011 to $45,042.27 in 2009.

We are a fiscally responsible community that pays its bills (including the bill for this year, which was not received until last month and was promptly addressed), but it is difficult to plan a budget when water costs change drastically from year to year. We do acknowledge water rates may differ from one year to the next, but not to the extent our past billing reflects.

We did meet with certain Burin councillors in May. However, this was a meeting between Finance Committees only, so no resolutions could be reached.

Any suggestions made at that meeting would have had to have been brought before councils before being approved or rejected, so the statement the meeting ended in certain agreements is false.

At that meeting, our Finance Committee stated we would prefer to reach an agreement for the future that involved paying for water on a per household or per cubic meter basis. It was agreed both towns would make inquiries of towns of similar size that have comparable agreements in order to ascertain what a fair rate would be.

Both Committees ended the meeting agreeing to bring these ideas to their respective councils for debate.

All our inquiries point to the conclusion the Town of Lewin’s Cove has been overcharged for water usage for years.

We are certainly not telling the Town of Burin what to do with their water, as certain ‘peeved’ councillors may think. We are simply asking for a reasonable agreement that provides our residents with water at a rate that is fair to everyone.

Arbitration would certainly provide a resolution to this debate, but this option was in no way presented as a ‘threat’. It was simply the result of years of frustration over this issue.

The Town of Lewin’s Cove would prefer to reach an agreement outside of arbitration, and is prepared to negotiate with the Town of Burin in the future to do so.

Town of Lewin’s Cove

Geographic location: Lewin, Burin

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