Council begins work on water-sewer rate schedule

Homer Mayor Beth Wythe stepped away from the gavel during a work session of the Homer City Council on Monday to present a report from the Homer Water and Sewer Task Force, which she chaired.

 “When all is said and done, there are two rates in water and two rates in sewer,” said Wythe. “There’s a water rate for primary customers and a different rate for bulk sales. There’s a sewer rate for all those customers that are gravity-fed into the station and a different rate for those requiring a lift station.”

As presented, the proposed rates include:

• Water per gallon for metered customers: $0.0111 per gallon;

• Water per gallon for bulk water: $0.015;

• Sewer per gallon for non-lift zone customers: $0.013;

• Sewer per gallon for lift station zones: $0.016;

• Rather than separate meter fees for water and sewer, $25 and $20 respectively, the task force proposed a single meter fee of $18.

Wythe pointed out areas needing work by the council, specifically those aligning water rates with sewer rates in lift station zones.

“It’s important we run it as a business,” said Wythe. “It doesn’t make us popular. It doesn’t make everyone happy. But we still need to run it as a business. That was a high priority for us.”

In addition to Wythe, task force members included Ken Castner, Robert Howard, Sharon Minch, Lloyd Moore and council member Beau Burgess.

Asked by council member Barbara Howard if the task force had given consideration to formation of a water and sewer commission, Wythe said it had been discussed.

“We’ve had quite a few complaints these are consumers, citizens and not people well versed in setting rates so it’s not necessarily the best choice for establishing a commission,” said Wythe.

“The committee elected to remove that from the recommendations.”

Copies of the task force’s report are available through the city clerk’s office. The recommendations will be addressed at a future meeting with time for the public to comment and the council to begin “setting a course for a new rate schedule in July,” said Wythe.