On January 18, the Town of Strathmore's Town Council passed the Utility Anomaly Policy. This policy is meant to help a utility ratepayer manage an unusually large and unexplained bill for a single billing policy.

Per the policy, an anomaly is defined as "any utility billing which reflects water consumption that is a minimum of three times the peak amount consumed during the previous two year's billing period." If you've experienced this, the policy adds that you must report the anomaly within 60 days of your billing to the town.

While the policy was passed, some concerns were brought up by Councillor Brent Wiley, who worried this policy could result in some residents taking advantage of money from the town for what he called their own carelessness.

"If there's a case where a certain rate payer just cannot seem to get things together, it doesn't make sense for Strathmore taxpayers to be punished, paying for continuing anomalies. I would hate to see the taxpayers of the town punished for that, instead of the ratepayer who is making the ongoing errors," Wiley said.

Because of this, Wiley proposed that you would only be able to apply for this policy once every 24 months. While other councillors shared his concern, this amendment ultimately wasn't passed, as Councillor Richard Wegener and others believed it was an unnecessary change.

"If it was an ongoing thing, or more often than once, it wouldn't be considered an anomaly. To me, the decision is in the Senior Manager of Financial Services (Leana Ashbacher) to make that decision, so if it's something that's ongoing, I don't really think it's necessary in the bylaw," Wegener said.

Ultimately, it was decided that Ashbacher would assess the situation and go from there, rather than make it an official part of the policy. Councillor Denise Peterson added they can leave the policy as it's written for now, and reevaluate next year to see if any amendments would need to be made then.

As for what constitutes a valid anomaly, Ashbacher explained they're looking for short spikes. For example, if you had a large amount of people stay at your house for an extended period of time which cause your water usage to skyrocket, that would not be valid. Ashbacher stressed the policy is meant to help people who have an unusually large and unexplained bill.

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