Levy to stay
Council votes 7-1 to keep $5 monthly charge

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 28/97) - The $5 addition to each city water bill will likely stay on the books for at least another year.

Much was said Wednesday night for and against the infrastructure replacement levy, but at the end of the evening seven of eight aldermen voted to keep it as is for 1998.

"Sewer and water services are the most critical things we deal with," said Ald. Blake Lyons. He urged council to "look at the big picture" and vote to keep the levy.

Mayor Dave Lovell said council had two options if they drop the levy: borrow the $570,000 it is expected to generate in 1998, or cut back on the planned $3.8 million in water and sewer replacement.

Ald. Cheryl Best, who cast the lone vote against the levy, offered another option.

"I believe the community of Yellowknife doesn't want to spend $10.5 million on a new community centre," said Best. "As far as I'm concerned, we can cut the budget on the arenas and use that to get rid of the levy."

That argument did not fly far.

Aldermen Robert Slaven, Kevin O'Reilly and Ben McDonald each said removing the levy without any added tax burden or borrowing will requiring planning and the kind of time that is not available for the 1998 budget.

Slaven pointed to a suggestion, made earlier by O'Reilly, to change the water billing system to promote water conservation as one possible way of getting around the levy.

Though he voted to support the keeping the levy, Ald. Bob Brooks argued to reduce it, saying, "I think residents of Yellowknife are at the point where they need some relief."

Any thoughts of cutting back replacement projects slated for 1998 were flushed by a report given by Adrian Bader, acting director of public works, on the condition of sewer mains on Forrest Drive.

Bader said sewer mains collapsed twice this year, costing the city $35,000 to repair.

"We're not even sure if we can get through the winter there," he added.

Ald. Peggy Near noted, "I don't think any of the people on Forrest drive or any other area, would be too happy if we pulled out the money and said we can't do the work."

The last word on the levy, and the rest of the budget, will be said Dec. 15, when council is slated to give the budget final approval.