There will not be a new rate increase for the Talkeetna Sewer and Water District. Assembly Member Vern Halter attended the Talkeetna Community Council meeting on Monday night and discussed the financial struggles facing the water and sewer system. Halter said it is important that the system get out of debt, and that the Borough administration proposed the rate increase in order to help with that process. The Borough budget also contains $75,000 to offset the annual operating deficit of the sewer and water system, and Halter plans to attempt to get funding each year to help the utility get back in the black.
Members of the Community Council pointed out that $100,000 in state funding is slated to pay for a study on the state of the sewer and water system, including economic viability. The Council voted to write a letter to state and Borough officials asking that rate increases be postponed until that study is complete.
At Tuesday night’s Borough Assembly Meeting, former Sewer and Water Advisory Board Chair Karen Schapansky spoke in opposition to the rate hike, citing increased revenue and the help from the Borough budget. Assembly Member Halter acted on the Community Council’s wishes, and used Assembly procedure to prevent the rate increase ordinance from being introduced until after the study is complete. Had the ordinance been introduced, it would have had a public hearing and vote on August 20th, with the first rate increase to follow on September 1st.