A home or building owner in the the city of Kenai must still pay for water and sewer service, even if the building is not occupied and the owner cancels the service.
That revelation came as a surprise to Kenai resident DeWayne Craig, who opted to have service disconnected to a home he is remodeling for resale, rather than pay for service he wasn't using.
However, when Craig sought to have the service reconnected, he found out he not only owed a $20 reconnect fee, but the water and sewer bill for the weeks he was disconnected as well.
"I was told that whether I was connected or disconnected that I was charged either way," Craig told the Kenai City Council on Thursday night. "I thought it was like the telephone or electricity, that when I'm disconnected there's no more telephone or electrical service."
Kenai Finance Director Larry Semmens said the city's policy states that anyone who lives within 200 feet of a water line must connect their home to it. They also must pay for the service whether they use it or not.
Semmens said Craig agreed to pay the past due portion of his bill but asked that the $20 reconnect fee be credited to his bill because he was not notified of the continued billing.
"I think there should be something on the (disconnect) notice that you're billed whether you're connected or not," Craig said.
He said that no one "in their right mind" would make the decision to disconnect if they knew they would still be billed.
Craig had the full support of Mayor John Williams.
"You have an ally in the mayor's office. For more than 30 years I've been up and down with water and sewer," he said. "I've had water and sewer disconnected that was never connected. I once bought a house that had been paying for water and sewer that was never connected.
"My own opinion, and council will have to agree, is that Mr. Craig is due his $20 back, and we need to let our customers know what we're doing."
Council member Pat Porter asked that the city refund Craig's money and include a user-friendly billing policy on the disconnect notices and give that information to everybody who signs up for service.
Her motion passed unanimously.
In other council news:
n Porter and fellow council member Bill Frazer were sworn in after winning re-election on Oct. 3.
n Porter called for the disbanding of the city's Historic Commis-sion, since the group has failed to have a quorum at most of its meetings.
Council member Jim Bookey said he had tried to "sunset" the Historic Commission's predecessor, the Historic District Board in the past.
"This has, from day one, caused us a lot of trouble," he said.
Porter asked that discussion of doing away with the commission be brought up at the next council meeting.
n A contract for $98,613.50 was awarded to Jackson Construction for the project to relocate the sewer line on Mission Avenue. The vote was 6-1, with Frazer abstaining because he is Jackson Construc-tion's insurance agent.
Bookey asked the city's administration if they were comfortable with Jackson's bid, since it was so much lower than the others. The next lowest bid came from D and L Construction for $125,200, followed by Foster Construction's bid for $146,460. The high bid came from Zubeck Inc., for $195,940.24. The engineer's estimate was for $137,582.
"That is quite a discrepancy in bid differential. Any idea why there is this difference?" Bookey asked.
Public Works Director Keith Kornelis said he spoke with Harold Jackson, the owner of Jackson Construction, and that he was comfortable with his bid.
"Mr. Jackson had a chance to review his bid," said City Manager Rick Ross.
n The council unanimously approved a special-use permit to the Cook Inlet Lions for the use of the floatplane basin at the Kenai Municipal Airport for snowmachine drag races. Williams said there was one letter of objection to the permit, but said if there were too many problems with noise, there is a cancellation clause in the permit.
n The council also approved the relocation of Alaska's Best Travel from its current location across from the ticket counters in the airport terminal, to the space formerly occupied by Alaska Wild Fin, the gift shop located near the baggage claim area.
The next council meeting will be Nov. 1.
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