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Study: City water, sewer rates should increase

Preliminary numbers of a rate study suggest boosting costs

Posted: February 11, 2014 - 12:02am

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 katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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. Shannara
2316
Points
. Shannara 02/11/14 - 07:31 am
3
1
Buckets are great for

Buckets are great for collecting water ;)

Dean Dawson
661
Points
Dean Dawson 02/11/14 - 08:08 am
5
0
Pricing Juneau out of the market?

This should be well thought out--very difficult for young couples to make a go of it in this town. Juneau might be slowing killing off its long-term viability by raising basic rates, which some argue are too high already.

Elsie Thecow
62
Points
Elsie Thecow 02/11/14 - 02:07 pm
6
0
Updates

"I anticipate that every year we’ll come back with an update."

So why haven't they been doing yearly updates?

Five years at 9.5% and five years at 5% means our rates will more than double! Your 100$ water/sewer bill becomes 200$ per month. That's not going to make Juneau any more affordable.

Makes you miss the old days when there were 2 to 3 % increases every two years. Wonder what changed that made us go from basically inflation to doubling our rates? Sure would like the answer to that.

Ian Leary
75
Points
Ian Leary 02/11/14 - 10:00 am
4
1
We pay to much now!!!

100$ per month is already too much!
This cost is due to the city screwing up by allowing [filtered word] poor engineering at the treatment plants to begin with. Having to buy residents homes after they flood them with sewage and incompetent workers. NO increase.
Oh, by the way, I had a study done and the results of that study (also a living document ) are that my CBJ taxes should be reduced.

Drew Green
240
Points
Drew Green 02/11/14 - 12:29 pm
2
1
Good grief!

Water and sewer should be half what it is now. Between property tax, sales tax and utilities paid to CBJ we are getting taxed out of town! Stop tacking on stuff to our utility bill and get aggressive about reducing costs.

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