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Talkeetna utility customers may see large increase in bills

by Sue Deyoe ~ May 6th, 2011

As the budgeting process for the next fiscal year at the Mat Su Borough for proceeds, the Talkeetna Sewer and Water Board is quickly trying to come up with solutions to financial issues that have been brought about by federal EPA standards. Utility customers may see a 35% increase or more, in their bills starting in July.

The Talkeetna Sewer and Water Board met twice last month to discuss next year’s budget shortfalls and continued their discussion at the latest meeting on Wednesday.

The new arsenic plant, a required installation by both state and federal standards, was made possible through a $1 million grant.  However, it came with a $105,000 loan that needs to be paid back over the next 20 years.

Last month, there was no agreement among the Talkeetna board members on how to handle the huge deficit that will occur in the utility bank account because of that loan.  Borough Operations and Maintenance manager Chuck Braun, said without lack of direction, he would advise the Assembly to approve a 35 to 50 percent increase in every customers monthly bill.

The board is supposed to be a 5 member advisory board to the Borough Assembly, but has been operating with only 3 members for months. Jane Steere was accepted as a board member by the Borough Assembly last month, and another person is putting his name in this coming month.  Those that have watched the process over the last month or two, agree Talkeetna’s system is in dire need of financial-minded individuals to solve complicated issues and the future financial decisions that the utility will face as the 20 year old system looks at repair issues.

Residents and businesses on the Talkeetna water and sewer system can expect a $44-month-increase starting in July if the Borough Assembly approves the budget as it has been presented.

The Borough’s budget is currently going through the public testimony process and can be found online at matsugov.us

2 Responses to Talkeetna utility customers may see large increase in bills

  1. Cary Birdsall

    So, doing the math, and assuming no interest(?), the implication is that there are about 120 accounts paying for this loan. Is that the case?

  2. Wayne Mushrush

    I think it would make sense to involve the community in infrastructure planning and financial solutions before taking on the debt. Talkeetna utility customers shouldn’t have to pay more for water and sewer services than other Alaska communities. The state, with its huge cash reserves should step in to pay this debt.

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