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Water-sewer task force develops rate model based on fairness

Posted: January 24, 2013 - 2:01pm

Last week Chris Story brought up some interesting questions concerning the interaction dynamics between the citizens and their local government.
One of his issues that I’ll respond to concerns the water-sewer fees for city users. I’ve been actively monitoring the Homer Water and Sewer Rate Task Force activity since its inception last spring. The task force has developed a politically neutral tentative rate model based upon the guiding principle of fairness: Your fee should approximate the burden, or cost, that you place upon the water-sewer system considering all relevant factors.  
In other words, the model is based primarily upon a commodity (water consumption)  fee. You pay a fixed price per gallon. The more water you use the higher your overall monthly bill, and vice-versa.
This rate will apply to the vast majority — approximately 90 percent — of the users, essentially all residences, whether single-family or multiplex. With respect to water quantity consumed, therefore, the average user’s bill won’t change much from your current cost.
What will change significantly will be “differential” fees proposed to be added to those users having special circumstances or placing a heavier burden upon the system, such as Spit, bulk and industrial users.
Additionally, more of the cost burden will be shifted to the general public, via the general fund (higher taxes, higher mill rate), to reflect the reality that the system’s fire protection capability really serves the general public at large, not just water-sewer users.
Hopefully this rate-model proposal will be presented for public review and input at the next meeting of the rate committee, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22. I emphasize that the model is not a finished product, but a preliminary proposal that requires your input to polish or modify before eventually being submitted to the city council for additional review and final disposition.
To verify the rate-model’s placement upon the agenda, for public input, monitor the task force agenda under the “calendar” section on the city website.   
Larry Slone

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