The Ketchikan City Council delayed action Thursday on four rate increases, postponing the items until the next regular meeting.
Mayor Lew Williams III says the delay will allow a full Council to consider the fee hikes. Two Council members were absent Thursday: Janalee Gage and Dave Kiffer. Both were attending a rehearsal for this weekend’s Jazz and Cabaret performance.
The city and Ketchikan Public Utilities 2016 budgets were built on the assumption that wastewater, garbage, electric and water rates would go up. The Council approved both of those budgets in December without challenging those assumptions. City code requires that the Council also approve separate ordinances for rate increases.
The proposed wastewater increase would raise the monthly residential charge by about $3; garbage fees would go up about a dollar a month; the average monthly residential electricity bill would go up by a little more than $5; and the monthly residential water bill would increase by almost $4.
The various utilities have been operating for years at a deficit. KPU Telecommunications Division has historically made enough money to make up for those losses, but its revenue has decreased in recent years.
The ordinances establishing those rate increases will be back for a first reading for the Council’s Feb. 4 meeting. Ordinances require two votes, so a second reading will be needed before the increases are adopted.