Chestermere residents could see up to an eight per cent rate reduction after city councillors voted Tuesday to retake control of its utility services, according to officials.

Chestermere Utilities Inc. was created in 2014 as an arms-length corporation created to provide services like water, sewage, recycling and waste collection.

But complaints started after residents began seeing dramatic spikes in their bills. In 2016, council voted in favour of double-digit rate hikes after being told previous rates weren't enough to cover operating costs. Then last fall, council directed administration to begin looking into taking back control of utilitiy services, which they voted for on Tuesday.

“Today is a historic day,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers in a release. “We have been working at untangling our utility issues from the very first day we took our oaths of office (in 2017) and I am so proud to announce this new path forward for our community. We heard that our residents wanted relief from high utility rates and took action.”

One option was for the City of Chestermere to maintain a legal shell/hybrid of a corporation in order to hold the debt of CUI.

“By choosing a shell/hybrid option, we ensure that the utility company’s debt remains separate from the city and does not handcuff our ability to pursue needed municipal projects for transportation and recreation for the future,” said Chalmers.

The corporation will have one employee and will not be able to incur any new debt. It will also be given a new name.

Next steps involve concluding CUI’s current structure and choosing a name for the shell corporation, drafting agreements for the city to provide utility services and applying for an official rate reduction.

That work is expected to be done by the fall.