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Borough Assembly again delays sewer and water rate increase

by Phillip Manning ~ March 19th, 2014

On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly once again delayed a measure that would increase the rates for Talkeetna Sewer and Water.  The topic did generate more discussion than at previous meetings, however.  Vern Halter, Assembly Member for the area that includes Talkeetna, spoke first, and said he does not support the increase at this time.

“The state funded a $100,000 study to study the whole system up there, including the rate structure and what to do next…I don’t think that’s done yet…and I don’t see anything, unless I’m missing it, from the Talkeetna Sewer and Water Board on this, so I’m not voting for this.”

The Mat-Su is currently the only borough in Alaska that operates a water and sewer system.  Where large systems exist, most are operated by municipalities.  Mayor DeVilbiss jokingly suggested that the Talkeetna system should be the same.

“Mayor Devilbiss:  We’ve been kicking this down the road ever since I was mayor.  Frankly, I would like to see the rates go up so high that they’ll incorporate and take it over as a city.

Assembly Member Halter:  Good luck with that one.”

Deputy Mayor Ronald Arvin put forth the argument that the proposed rate increase is actually part of a larger trend within the Borough.

“This issue has been in front of us a number of times, and it has been kicked down the road.  I think what’s important to recognize is we’ve been recently taking a holistic approach, borough-wide, of fee increases from skating to landfill tipping fees, and the reason is there’s not a lot of money laying around.”

After about ten minutes of conversation and questions to Borough staff, Assembly Member Halter moved to delay a decision on the rate structure for Talkeetna Sewer and Water until August, when the report from the ongoing state-funded study is expected to be available.

A complete recording of Tuesday’s Borough Assembly meeting can be found at radiofreepalmer.org.

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