Water and sewer rates could go up across the board in Juneau if a proposed plan is adopted by the city. However, whether it’ll be taken on won’t be decided for quite a while.
A rate study begun in November by consulting firm FCS GROUP has found in its preliminary results that Juneau should raise its rates across the board to keep the public utility sustainable.
Company senior project manager Bill Wilks presented the preliminary findings at Monday’s City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting. The findings were complicated, and assembly members wondered out loud how to convey the results to the public.
To make water and sewer utilities sustainable, rates need to be tweaked, Wilks said. Most families and businesses need to pay more, the numbers suggested, which could be spread over several years, he said.
Deputy Mayor Mary Becker said more needs to be discussed before the Assembly makes any policies surrounding the rates.
“Number one, … are we going to have a rate increase?” she asked after Wilks’ presentation.
Luckily, the numbers are still preliminary, and not set in stone, CBJ Public Works Director Kirk Duncan said.
“This is a living document,” he said. “I anticipate that every year we’ll come back with an update. It’s not like you’re agreeing to a rate increase in 2022 right now.”
Also at the meeting, Cruise Lines International Association Alaska President John Binkley gave a presentation on the state of the cruise industry as it relates to Juneau.
Juneau received almost a million cruise passengers on 28 different ships from 11 cruise lines making 482 voyages in 2013, Binkley said. He anticipates that the number of passengers will remain flat in 2014.
Because of the cost associated with sailing to Alaska, the number of ships setting sights on Alaska are dropping, he said. But ongoing projects in Juneau — the new cruise ship docks and the plans to expand the wayside near the Mendenhall Glacier to more easily accommodate buses — will encourage cruise companies to bring more ships to Juneau.
“Not only do we like to show off our state, but we like their money,” Binkley said.
The visitor industry brought more than $1 billion in spending to the state in 2012, he said.
Before the regular meeting, the Assembly held a special meeting in executive session to discuss the city’s pending APARC litigation. City Manager Kim Kiefer said she could not comment on the issue.
Editor’s note: The meeting was still in progress at press time.
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.