City has good concept for gas, but implementation plan needs work

  • Thursday, January 24, 2013 2:01pm
  • News

I am a proponent of bringing natural gas to Homer, mainly because of the environmental benefits. However, in the absence of a long-term gas contract and projected shortages, be prepared for the very real possibility of substantial price hikes. You can bet that with huge potential profits to be reaped in Asia and Europe, our gas will be liquefied and exported.
I also believe the Homer City Council is taking the proper action by proposing a city wide distribution system. I do not, however, accept the premise of Resolution 12-069 “The Council finds that the natural gas distribution system will benefit equally all parcels of real property in the city that will receive access to natural gas service through the construction of the natural gas distribution system, and that all parcels so benefited should be assessed equally for the cost of the natural gas distribution system….”
How can that vacant lot down the street possibly incur the same benefits that a $5.5-million property such as Land’s End Resort will enjoy? The only similarity is that both parcels will be assessed $3,283.30 to build the system. Is it possible that any Homer homeowner will benefit, for example, to the extent that the $4.2-million Safeway corporate property will enjoy? I think not.
An analogy to the current council approach would be if all property owners were required to pay for a slip in the harbor at one set price, regardless if they owned a boat or not, and regardless if the vessel was a 12-foot dinghy or a 120-foot mega-yacht.
A disproportionate share of the expense of the distribution system, as proposed, is being placed on non-commercial property owners. A much more equitable method would be to prorate each of the 3,855 properties by borough assessed values. While this may not be the perfect solution it is likely that there is a correlation between property values and benefit derived from access to the gas.
If you want natural gas, but think the city council should require large businesses to foot their fair share of the distribution system, I urge you to send in your objection to the City Clerk before Jan. 25.
Doug Van Patten

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