Renfrew County budget workshop.
Participants in the budget workshop included, from left, Miramichi Lodge administrator Shelley Sheedy, public works director David Darch and Bonnechere Manor administrator Shayne Hoelke.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
It’s not the first time the issue has come up, but county councillors are wondering why Bonnechere Manor water bills remain so much higher than those at Miramichi Lodge.
During the Renfrew County budget workshop last week, Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet questioned the exorbitant difference between the county’s two long-term care homes, located in Renfrew and Pembroke respectively.
“Something’s not right, and maybe someone can give me an explanation,” said Sweet during Renfrew County council’s budget workshop Jan. 23.
“I’ll buy the fact the water charges are different, but when you do it on a per capita basis, it’s three times more expensive in Renfrew … I don’t see why there should be such a discrepancy between these two homes.”
In 2012, the listed water/waste water bill for Bonnechere Manor was budgeted at $75,854, down from bills of $84,978 in 2011 and $106,365 in 2009. Miramichi Lodge’s 2012 water/wastewater budget was $18,000, compared to water bills of $17,781 in 2011 and $13,901 in 2009.
The reasons are still unclear, but two explanations seemed to account for at least some of the disparity in costs between the two facilities.
One, Renfrew’s water rates are the highest in the county following water-rate hikes a few years ago, pointed out Renfrew Reeve Audrey Green.
Two, a significant pipe leak at the Renfrew facility was identified shortly before Christmas, said Bonnechere Manor administrator Shayne Hoelke. The administrator says he and staff member Lee Kirkwood did an extensive examination of water pipes before locating the one leak, after Sweet had identified this difference in water rates last year.
“We anticipate there will be savings in 2013,” said Hoelke.
Meanwhile, county council has asked for a December 2012 to December 2013 comparison of water bills to track the situation.