Looking to rent in Moose Jaw? There will be a significant increase in the deposit you need to pay the city for your water. 

City council voted in favour of having city administration move forward with amendments to the city’s Sewer and Water Utility Bylaw that increase the deposit from $140 to $250. The deposit is held for two years and, if the account holder remains in good credit with the city, the deposit is credited back into the utility account. 

Those renting that have already paid the $140 deposit will not be required to pay an additional $110. 

The deposit is taken by the city to cover a quarterly bill for a property, but according to city administration, the deposit amount no longer covers that. 

“The rental deposits haven't been increased since 2011 and the increase that we're requesting will bring the City of Moose Jaw’s required deposits in line with other cities in the province,” said city treasurer and city assessor Brenda Hendrickson. 

City administration noted that one of the reasons for the sizable increase is the high percentage of unpaid water utility accounts from rental properties, which collection is hard to enforce. 

About 13 per cent of utility accounts with the city are renters, which generates about 3.34 per cent of the annual revenue from the Sewer and Water Utility. 

That being said, 98 per cent of those with “bad debt” for the utility are rental properties. The proposed increase would help decrease the “bad debt” as the deposit is applied to the final bill, lowering the amount due. 

City administration is also looking at transferring unpaid utility bills to the property tax account once both the property owner and renter are notified. However, the city is still addressing potential privacy concerns. 

Residents to have 12 months to correct errors during the water meter replacement project 

Another proposed amendment to the Sewer and Water Utility Bylaw would be to give residents 12 months to adjust any errors in billing during the water meter replacement project, which will start in August. 

The water meter replacement project will see all water meters in the city replaced with smart meters that can be read remotely. 

Because of the changes, the city is expecting there could be errors in billing and wants to have a policy to manage any errors. 

“I believe it was in 2016 we had a number of residents where we got actual meter rates and it went back over a significant period of time. So, the amount of money that was expected to be paid by them was very significant so this is trying to limit it to a 12-month period,” said Director of Financial Services Brian Acker. 

The change also allows the city’s deputy city treasurer to approve adjustments up to $5,000. Adjustments over that would need approval by either Acker or Hendrickson.