To meet operational and capital improvement needs, the city of Kodiak began its plan to increase sewer rates over the next five years. The increase went into effect Aug. 1.
The increase was authorized during a July 25 city council meeting. All present members voted in favor of passing the sewer-rate increase resolution. Council member Randy Bishop was absent.
Costs were estimated to increase 24% over a 5-year period, Council member John Whiddon said at the meeting.
The city hired engineering firm Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to review and recommend updated rates to the sewer system.
The study showed existing sewer fees were not sufficient to fund operation, maintenance and capital improvements for the near future, said City Manager Mike Tvenge at the meeting.
The study revealed the rates per resident in Kodiak would increase from $80.16 per month in FY2019, to $84.17 in FY2020 and $104.23 in FY2024.
The rates take into account the federally mandated 4.5 to 5 million dollar capital project for a new ultraviolet disinfection system to remain compliant with current EPA regulations, stated meeting documents.
Tvenge noted parts of the wastewater system, which serves approximately 9,500 people and includes 52.4 miles of water distribution and transmission lines, dates back to the 1950s and continuously needs to be upgraded and repaired to meet current regulations.
The resolution was adopted with conditions to review rates on an annual basis.
“The cost of living in Kodiak is such that just sticking to a five-year rate increase without annual reviews I think is not a prudent way to go,” Whiddon said. “An annual review will be necessary to assure the needs of the community are being met by the rates assessed.”
Whiddon also noted that the need for repairing and updating the water and sewer systems was especially evident after the “catastrophic” underground sewer failure in May. He noted that July sewer rates are aligned with other Alaska communities similar in size to Kodiak.
Council member Charles Davidson reiterated the importance of keeping the water and sewer systems well-maintained and said the rate increase will also be necessary as there may be a “scarcity of grants to fund the upgrades.”