Rebate rumblings

Dawson's latest budget flushed its sewer-and-water rebate down the drain. Now politicians are plumbing the system to come up with about $250,000 to soothe angry voters.

Dawson’s latest budget flushed its sewer-and-water rebate down the drain.

Now politicians are plumbing the system to come up with about $250,000 to soothe angry voters.

The budget redirected the sewer-andwater rebate, which amounts to $800 and $500 to seniors and year-round residents respectively, to other programs.

Publicly, councillors have called it an accident.

Former mayor John Steins doesn’t think so.

The municipal government wants to get rid of the rebate, suspects Steins.

“I don’t think it was a mess-up at all because somebody somewhere wants to take away these – what they call subsidies.”

“There are rationales that exist for changing the rebate program,” said Jeff Renaud, Dawson’s chief administrative officer. “But at the moment there is no official intention to do anything.”

Councillors say the territorial government holds this subsidy over the town’s head when they ask for cash to help renovate the pipes, said Steins.

“This is the water-and-sewer system that was brought to us, courtesy of YTG,” he said. “Some believe we were sold a bill of goods because it’s falling apart now.”

The suggestion the territory considers the subsidy a strike against the municipality is news to Renaud.

“No bureaucrat from the Yukon government has ever insinuated that to me,” he said. “Can I foresee it as a potential issue down the road? It could be a negotiating challenge. But the Yukon government has never indicated that it’s an issue to me, personally.”

The rebate encourages residents to pay their bills on time, said Renaud.

But the town’s water services budget is a Gordian knot, said Steins.

“No one knows how much the water- and-sewer budget actually is. I’ve had it explained to me at least 10 times and I still can’t tell you what it is. It’s a chameleon budget, you can skew it anyway that you want to justify whatever.”

The past senior financial officer claims the true cost of delivering water and sewer to each connection in town is around $1,000 – not $1,700 like the city is charging, said Steins.

So, even with the rebate, residents are still paying more than they should be, he said.

“It’s already expensive enough to live here,” he said.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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