The Monte Carlo Laundromat in Dawson City shut its doors May 31 after the latest increase in water and sewer tax rates by the city.
Tina Green, the laundromat’s owner, said she could no longer afford to keep the business open after the rates were increased for the third year in a row.
“My bill has increased by $2,000 in the last two years. I can’t jack up the prices any further for my customers,” she said.
Other than some hotels in town with a few washing machines, Green’s laundromat was the only one downtown, posing a problem for the city’s residents, particularly short-term residents.
“A lot of people are upset by the closing down of my laundromat but then I explain the figures to them and they understand,” Green said.
Residents will have to turn to Bonanza Gold Motel & RV Park, which operates a laundromat about one kilometre away from the town. But Terri Turai, owner of Bonanza Gold, says that they too will have to consider whether they can remain open once they receive their bill.
“We’re dreading our bill in August. We don’t know how we’re going to survive this,” she said.
Laundromats aren’t the only businesses to be affected by the latest rates. Peter Jenkins, a former Dawson mayor and the owner of Eldorado Hotel, says that his water and sewer bills are at an all-time high. Jenkins is further frustrated by the city’s lack of answers.
“I have approached them many, many times and I haven’t received anything,” he said. Jenkins wrote an open letter to the city asking for an explanation for the increase in rates, which has been circulated around business owners in Dawson City.
Jenkins’ letter demanded to see a study justifying the increases, and said the city has increased the commercial water and sewer tax rates by 13 and 15 per cent respectively.
But Mayor Wayne Potoroka said that the city set the rates for this year in 2016 using a study commissioned by the city in 2015. He said the increase won’t be as high as business owners were expecting. An error occurred while setting the commercial rates, which caused the increase to be applied twice.
“The rate increase was added twice by an error that escaped all our administrative checks, including council oversight,” he said. “We have rolled it back and corrected it before commercial bills were mailed.”
Turai understands that the city needs to increase the rates but she questions why only the commercial rates have increased, while residential rates have remained the same.
“We’re all willing to help but it cannot be the same people paying over and over again. There needs to some form of distribution and it needs to be fair,” she said.
Contact Sharon Nadeem at firstname.lastname@example.org