Kenai won’t turn off bills

RV parks must pay even though they don’t use water in winter

Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2006

After hearing from a second recreational vehicle park owner, Kenai decided to stick with its earlier decision to charge for water and sewer service in winter, even though the parks are closed.

The owner of Beluga Lookout RV Park on the bluff above the mouth of the Kenai River told the Kenai City Council last week he believes the city’s minimum charge is too high.

“When I shut down for the winter, (Homer Electric Association) charges me $10; Enstar only charges for the gas used, which is nothing,” said Jerry Dunn.

“I think the $84 per month the city is charging is excessive,” he said.

At its Oct. 4 meeting, the council heard from Randy Bostrom, owner of Kenai RV Park, who said the $83.95 the city is charging will result in him paying more when he is not using water than when he is.

The controversy arose in June when the city sent out a letter saying, “Effective immediately all accounts will be billed the monthly minimum according to the Kenai Municipal Code.”

Bostrom wrote back saying, “I feel it is unfair to ask my business, which makes no income for seven months of the year, to pay for utilities when I am not using them, while you allow residential customers to suspend their services temporarily any time they wish.”

He asked the city to reconsider.

City Manager Rick Koch said the utility bill “actually has little to do with the cost of water,” explaining that most of the fee charged for city water and sewer service pays for fixed costs including personnel, plant and equipment needed to provide service.

Koch and other city administration officials said the municipal code does not allow businesses or residents to suspend water and sewer service during the year, but for an unexplained reason, RV parks were not charged in the winter.

Koch also said the total cost of providing the services to the entire city must be paid, and a multitude of options exist for getting to the bottom line figure.

Council members discussed possibilities, some saying bed and breakfast businesses would also want to suspend their services, as well as seasonal residents.

“I don’t think that’s a road we want to go down,” said council member Rick Ross.

Council member Joe Moore told Koch he agrees with what the city manager put in his memo to the council.

After the meeting, Dunn said he still does not understand the charge, adding that HEA and Enstar have fixed costs, as well.

Koch said it would take an ordinance to amend the municipal code, if the council wants to change the billing requirement.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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