The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling a planned water rate hike in La Ronge “astronomical” and “very unusual”.

The flat monthly water and sewer bill homeowners pay will be increasing 30 per cent next year and another 30 per cent the following year.

But if the town isn’t able to implement water meters or some other cost-saving measure by then, the water bills will triple within five years.

La Ronge customers currently pay $55 a month for water and sewer services. By 2019, it could be $170 a month.

Taxpayers federation spokesman Colin Craig says a normal scenario would see the town index the rate hikes with inflation.

“It’s not uncommon to see rate increases that are sometimes higher than inflation — maybe, 3 or 4 per cent — that type of level. But to hear that it’s 30 per cent over multiple years, I mean, that just seems very unusual and odd and completely out of line with what we usually hear about.”

La Ronge mayor Thomas Sierzycki says the problem is current water bills only cover 51 per cent of the cost to produce water.

“So, really, it’s not a popular thing for council to do, to look at, increasing costs. However, the realistic approach to this situation is that you do increases over time and then you do look at options that hopefully will be cost-effective to the average user, the average family, but also environmentally-friendly.”

Craig says with an increase like this, property owners should be paying less tax. But the mayor says the water rate hikes are designed to hopefully keep property taxes at current levels.