To ensure the well doesn’t run dry, the City of Merritt is increasing fees for water and garbage services.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, city council unanimously adopted amendment bylaws to increase garbage collection rates by 10 per cent along with a 10 per cent increase to water user rates, and an additional $20 per parcel to the water parcel tax.

On average, Merritt residents can expect to pay an additional $100 per year starting at the end of April.

Garbage collection fees are going up to offset the recently increased charge for solid waste disposal by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and water user rates are rising to ensure the water utility budget remains balanced for the long-term and helps fund future water main replacements.

The water utility budget was balanced for 2015 primarily through reserve funds, which is unsustainable as the city will eventually deplete the reserves for the water fund, a report to council states.

“We’re using a substantial amount of our reserves in order to accommodate the capital projects that we’re undertaking,” financial services manager Ken Ostraat said.

The additional revenue from the parcel tax combined with the changes to the water user rates is expected to generate about an additional $180,000 annually to be spent primarily on infrastructure, such as water main replacements.

“Right now, the water fund essentially covers off its operating costs and everything else like that, but it’s not really generating sufficient surplus to put into a reserve for future capital projects,” Ostraat said.

These increases apply to residents and businesses alike.

The last time the water parcel tax was increased was 2008 and the last time the city increased its water user rate was 2011.

Merritt’s water master plan recommends increasing water user rates every year by the rate of inflation. In order to make up for past years, the city is increasing the rate by 10 per cent in 2015.

The rate can be expected to rise only by the rate of inflation in future years, which Ostraat said should account for about a two per cent increase next year.

At council’s March 10 regular meeting, Coun. Linda Brown said she wasn’t comfortable putting the increased costs on citizens without first looking at decreasing budget costs.

Ostraat replied by saying staff have been trying to keep costs under control, noting efforts to reduce RCMP costs in particular.

The 2015 budget is based on an anticipated two per cent property tax increase.

Ostraat said the average house in Merritt is worth about $203,000 meaning there will be about a $16 increase in municipal taxes this year.