Talkeetna Water and Sewer customers can expect a 5% rate increase to take effect November 1st. That’s according to Talkeetna Water and Sewer Board member Karen Schapansky, who addressed the Talkeetna Community Council at their meeting on Monday night.
Schapansky says the all-volunteer Board has been meeting weekly for several months to try and find a way to equitably solve the budget shortfall. The Board acknowledge that the 5% rate increase won’t likely make up the deficit, the Board felt that historic rate increases had already taken the utility to the limit of what the 193 water and sewer customers should be expected to pay. Commercial users will have a flat rate up to 8,000 gallons, and a rate of $5.80 per thousand gallons beyond that. Residential customers will continue to have a flat rate after the increase.
Currently the utility operates at an annual deficit of around $80,000. Additionally, various loans for capital projects have set the utility back, and Schapansky says there are more critical capital projects that need to be done just to keep the water running and bring the sewage treatment plant up to compliance.
Earlier this year, representative Vern Halter took the matter before the Borough Assembly to request that Bed Tax money be used for the system, since the vast majority of use comes during the summer months when thousands of daily visitors run through an estimated 90,000 gallons per day, compared to a winter time average of just 20,000 gallons per day. The Borough found legal reasoning preventing the Bed Tax from that use. Now, the Board has asked the Borough to change to the rules governing Bed Tax allocations. They have also appealed to the industrial tourism companies that operate in the area for financial contributions, since the presence of a public sewer system is one feature that makes tourism to Talkeetna possible.
Borough Manager John Moosey will be attending a meeting of the Board later this month with answers about how to bring the utility closer to solvency. Schapansky says the Water and Sewer Board is always looking for participation from people in the community who have a stake in the use of plumbing in Talkeetna.