The proposed surcharges (capital charges) for existing residents to hook up to municipal water and sewer networks may be be perfectly legal, but it is a preposterous idea! The Township is planning to charge existing residents, who are currently on private wells and septic systems, a new surcharge to connect to an existing network or to a new one that they are expected to pay for constructing down their street. The plan is to charge an extra $4,400 for a water hook up and $4,000 for a sanitary sewer hook up.

Residents of Lamadeleine St. in Embrun are currently being offered (after many years of negotiations) a sanitary sewer where each household on that street is now being expected to pay their share of between $20,000 and $30,000 (up from a first estimation of $10,000) to construct a pipeline and a pumping station down their street. On top of that they are expected to pay for the construction of a service line out from their house that could cost $5,000 or more.  They will also need a building and inspection permit for this. The new $4,400 surcharge would be added on top of all that? You can understand why the residents of that street are up in arms when the construction costs have tripled, and they are all expected to pay, if 60 per cent of the residents want to have it installed.  The other 40 per cent will have no choice but to pay their share of the construction costs!

Currently there are about 600 residents, that are without municipal sewer and water services, and if you multiply that by the proposed $8,400 surcharges you can get an idea of the amount of money involved ($5-million). We are told that these new surcharges are equivalent to the development charges that are charged to developers of new subdivisions. These charges are for upsizing and rebuilding downstream sewage collection pipes, upstream water-mains and future modifications to the water treatment plant and wastewater treatment lagoons. I was told that no taxpayer money is being spent on these required accommodations, so new users will have to pay an equivalent amount. I was also told that there are no provincial or federal grants available to expand these networks so the municipality has little choice.

I have lived in the Village of Russell since 1981 on a well and septic system that a previous owner installed and I have maintained. I see a concerning trend developing that amounts to a user pay for expanding and rebuilding of our municipal services. Will roads be next? If you live on a gravel road in Russell Township, and most residents along it would like to have it paved, will you be expected to pay your share of the construction costs? In the future will we be also expected to pay for repaving our roads? Our taxes are already too high. Who can afford to live here anymore?

This is a municipal election year and it is time for residents to make their voices heard!

Harry Baker, Russell