Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:09 PM on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Want to know more about gas line?

City plans community meetings for Oct. 16, 17 and 29 at high school

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Following its vote in June to initiate the Homer Natural Gas Special Assessment District, the Homer City Council on Monday night took the next step in the process to extend to the entire city a public-financed distribution gas line. Under the city's rules for creating special assessment districts, the council passed a resolution approving an improvement plan. That plan does the following:

• Estimates a construction cost of $12.1 million;

• Creates an assessment roll of 3,855 properties to be assessed at a cost of $3,283.30 per lot;

• Establishes the location and extent of the gas main improvements for 73 miles of pipe; and

• Sets the construction schedule of 2013 for the core area and 2014 for the outlying area, including the Homer Spit.

Next summer, Enstar Natural Gas will build the Homer Trunk Line, a line bringing natural gas from Anchor Point to Homer. The council earlier started the assessment district project so as to coordinate a build-out within the city while Enstar builds the trunk line.

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, 17 and 29 at the Homer High School Commons, the city holds community meetings on the gas line build-out. Maps of the assessment districts, the assessment list and other information will be available. City officials also will be on hand to discuss the project.

The improvement plan keeps the process going for creating the special assessment district. The assessment roll was created using guidelines set by the council on which lots would be part of the district — that is, which ones will receive service. Lots with conservation easements, public parks and lots where it isn't feasible to run a line were excluded, for example. The list was published in Monday's council packet and also is available online on a new city website for the project at www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/naturalgas. Property owners excluded who want to be in the assessment district should petition the city now to be added, said Katie Koester, economic development coordinator and the city official coordinating the assessment district project. The assessment district isn't official until these steps have been accomplished:

• Sometime in November, a certified mailing is sent out notifying affected lot owners of a public hearing in January and the opportunity to object;

• By the day before a public hearing in January, half the lots plus one do not object to the assessment district;

• Sometime in January, several public hearings on the assessment district are held and the council votes to approve the final roll and accept the creation of the assessment district.

Because more than half of the total assessment value has to approve the district, each lot gets one vote. An owner of a lot who does not object is considered to support the district. That is, to fail, 1,928 lots must object.

Lot owners who object to being included in a special assessment district that passes can ask to be exempted after the gas line is constructed. Property owners won't be assessed until construction is done.

The improvement plan also allows for lot owners to pay off the assessment in a single payment or over 10 years, with financing offered at the same interest rate the city would pay to fund the project. At 4 percent interest, the annual payment would be about $400 a year.

Koester said a mailing will be going out soon to lot owners on the assessment roll. The website also will be updated as needed.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.