Utility Bylaw Rate Changes
The City is updating its commercial, industrial, and institutional (non-residential) utility customer account information in preparation for upcoming changes to utility account billing starting in 2024. This is an essential step to ensure future billing is accurate. Without current information, the city will estimate the information, which may result in inaccurate billing. Customers may contact the city at any time to request correction of billing errors, but we encourage customers to be proactive and complete this form in advance.
In 2022, Lacombe City Council updated the City of Lacombe's Utility Bylaw 450. The new Utility Bylaw introduced a five-year phase-in of a new utility rate structure with more equitable fixed rates between residential and non-residential ratepayers starting in 2024. These changes to the Bylaw intend to ensure the ongoing viability of the City's self-funded utilities.
The Bylaw establishes equitable rates by introducing a tiered disposal fee for all non‐residential City utility customers, regardless of whether they utilize City collection services. The Bylaw also introduces tiered water and wastewater fixed fees for residential and non-residential customers based on meter size and wastewater service line size to address less significant rate inequities in those utilities.
The City of Lacombe chose to phase in these changes over five years to allow non-residential utility clients, who may see significant changes to their utility bills, the time to adapt to the incoming changes – and make any alterations to their accounts (I.e., installing a different water meter) if it is feasible to do so.
Changes for residents include different billing category names and solid waste fees split into a “collection” and “disposal” charges. The estimated impact on typical City utility customers’ monthly bills overall is as follows:
2023 Typical Monthly Bill
Transitioning to by 2028
2023-28 Average % Change y-y
Single Family Home
Very Large Business/Institution
The City's disposal costs at Lacombe Regional Waste Services (LWRSC) are population-based, which means the LRWSC charges are the same regardless of increases or decreases in the actual solid waste disposed of with the Lacombe Regional Solid Waste Commission.
Non‐residential disposal costs starting in 2024 will be allocated on a "tier" system based on the total monthly disposal volume available to each non‐residential customer as calculated by multiplying the:
- number of bins on site,
- number of times the bins are "tipped" per month, and
- size of the bins.
Currently, non-residential customers who contract a third-party collection service do not pay any portion of solid waste disposal fees. Including disposal costs on non-residential customers' bills going forward ensures all customers are paying for LRWSC services. If you are a non-residential customer who utilizes third-party collection, a separate letter has been attached with additional details.
The Utility Bylaw is updated annually and outlines the basic charges for water utility customers. Starting in 2024, the City will be phasing in the new rate model over the next five years.
Water bills include a fixed basic charge and a consumption charge. Under the previous Bylaw, all customers had the same basic charge. Moving forward, the basic charge will be based on the customer's water meter size, with larger meters being charged a higher basic cost.
For non-residential customers, it is essential for metering accuracy to have the right size meter for their water requirements. Utility rates based on meter size ensure the customer's basic charges on water utility bills are proportional to their benefit from the oversized system. Customers with lower water demands will pay a lower basic amount.
For reference, your water meter is inside the property, in the basement or maintenance area. You may contact the Utilities Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-782-1261 for assistance, request an inspection of your meter, or confirm your meter size. It is essential to remember that plumbing modifications to facilitate the new meter size are the owner's responsibility.
The Utility Bylaw will outline the basic charges for water utility customers based on the following meter sizes:
- Up to 25mm
- 30mm to 50mm
- 75mm to 100mm
The City is asking non-residential customers to confirm their meter sizes here.
No changes to the wastewater utility fixed rate tiers were approved in the Bylaw
The rate structure in the bylaw introduces two main changes to the wastewater utility billings:
- It introduces a tiered fixed wastewater rate based on a customer's wastewater service size. Currently, every City wastewater customer pays the same fixed wastewater rate. The new fixed‐rate structure means wastewater customers with large wastewater services that can contribute significantly more wastewater into the system pay a higher portion of the fixed rate. Historically 30% of all wastewater utility rate revenue comes from fixed charges, and the rate structure continues with that allocation.
- It decreases capital reserve contributions for the Wastewater Utility. The 2015‐2021 average annual contribution is $373,000; the model decreases the average contribution to $350,000 in 2024‐2031 The tiered fixed wastewater rates will shift the revenue collected to larger users based on wastewater service pipe size. The table below summarizes the estimated revenue allocation and fixed rate per pipe size based on the rates proposed at first and second reading only.
Please Get in Touch with Us
The City is asking residents to confirm their meter sizes and, if known, their sanitary sewer service size to ensure their utility bills are accurate in 2024. If you are a non-residential customer who utilizes third-party collection, a separate letter has been attached requesting additional information.
You can confirm your details online for non-residential customers and additional information on Utility Bylaw 450. Residents who would like further assistance confirming their details can come into City Hall or call us at 403-782-6666.
If you would like to request a change to your water meter size on City records, a change request form is available at City Hall or online. These changes will need to be confirmed by City staff, with inspections beginning in September 2023.
For more information, the City has prepared a FAQ page which can be found here.