Juneau’s water utility rates are set to increase in January

The Juneau Assembly approved a rate increase to water and wastewater utility rates Monday.

A 4% rate increase will take place in January. Then, starting in 2021, rates will go up by 2% each year for four years.

The last rate increase was in July of last year. The City and Borough of Juneau has been steadily raising water and wastewater utility rates for more than a decade to raise revenue to fund improvements to aging infrastructure.

CBJ Public Works and Engineering Director Mike Vigue said they realize the rate increases are not ideal. That’s why they wanted to spread out the increases over time to make them more palatable.

“So by having the first rate increase be 18 months from the last one, and the second be 18 months from that initial one, it gives them a little bit of time in between, and it’s not as big of an impact,” Vigue said.

Chuck Collins is the general manager of Wright Services, which owns several mobile home parks in Juneau. He told the Assembly that the rate increases will be felt most by low-income residents like his tenants.

“The cost of any rise in those utility rates will go from us through to them, as we have no choice,” Collins said .

He suggested lowering the 4% increase to 2% to keep it more in line with Juneau’s inflation rate.

“It’s expensive to live in Juneau, and we have a business that caters to people that are trying to get by, make a living,” Collins said. “We’re talking about lower-income, starting families. And in my opinion, it inordinately impacts them.”

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