Give West Fernie residents a break
I just read the RDEK September 2011 West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Information Package. It only mentions the 1975 Agreement for water supply. This carrot and stick communication fails to mention the 1975 agreement that terminated, replaced and expanded on the 1955 Agreement, nor did they mention the 1979 Agreement that added fire protection and garbage collection to the services provided. The 1955 agreement has only been a piece of history since 1975. Fire protection and garbage collection have since been amended without consultation or consent of West Fernie residents but the 1975 agreement on water supply and the City’s total responsibility for whatever is required to keep the West Fernie waterworks functioning remains in effect as originally negotiated and acted on by the Mayor who signed the 1975 agreement when he absorbed the capital cost of extending the West Fernie system. It is the legal instrument that enables the City to collect the water fee.
I have heard some City residents think West Fernie residents are somewhat parasitic with respect to the services provided by the City. It just ain’t so. City residents pay a fee plus a fixed frontage tax for water and West Fernie residents pay a fee that is the total of what City residents pay. Since that one Mayor’s act of absorbing a capital cost the City has refused to do any more than put metal band aids on serious leaks in West Fernie. That means that since 1975 almost every dollar coming out of West Fernie went for repairs, maintenance and capital costs of the City’s waterworks. It’s payback time.
When the trustees of the WFWD negotiated fire protection in 1979 West Fernie was and still is a low risk community with a community water system. That means the City did not need more equipment or manpower, so the cost of the fire department did not change but was spread over more homeowners so the cost to individual City residents went down.
Until the RDEK took over transfer stations and hauling garbage to Lethbridge the RDEK paid a head tax to the City of Fernie of about $40 per person for rural residents to use the City’s landfill. That included West Fernie residents. That money was deducted from the City’s operating cost of garbage collection and landfill operation before calculating the fee charged to both City and West Fernie residents. Every service sold to West Fernie has reduced the cost to City residents.