City updates water, sewer rates

Some city water and sewer customers could see a decrease in their usage rates next year, while others may see a slight increase.

Members of the Homer City Council and city staff discussed water and sewer rate adjustments during their Committee of the Whole Meeting prior to the last city council meeting on July 23. Finance Director Elizabeth Walton went over the new fee schedule with council members and answered any questions they had before the resolution that will set the new rates was introduced later that night during the council’s regular meeting through the consent agenda.

Based on the water and sewer rate model the city adopted from the Water Sewer Rate Task Force in 2013, “adjustments to the rates are recommended and warranted to reflect the true cost of water and sewer services,” according to the resolution.

The usage charge per gallon for sewer will be slightly lower under the new rates, dropping from $0.0232 to $0.0224 for lift station customers, and from $0.0157 to $0.0145 for non-lift station customers. The pumping fee for sewer customers, where applicable would drop from $7.75 per customer per month, to $6.75.

According to the resolution, the monthly service fee for water customers will decrease from $19 to $13. This could help lessen the impact of the increases to the usage charge per gallon that are proposed for water users. According to an informational chart included in Walton’s presentation, water users will see a variance of 23 cents between the current rates and the proposed rates. This is the rate per 100 gallons of water.

In order to give a better idea of how the water and sewer rate changes will affect customers within the city, the chart Walton provided included the estimated impacts for low volume residential users, high volume residential users and year-round lift station users, with city buildings used as examples.

A low volume residential customer with usage similar to City Hall, for example, would see enough of a drop in sewer rates to compensate for the increased water rates and leave them with $2.37 less in their total bill. High volume residential users and year-round lift station users will see total bill increases of $1.04 and $1.50, respectively. The resolution to adjust the city water and sewer rates is up for public hearing at the Aug. 13 city council meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. in city Hall.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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