Wrangell’s City Hall.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

Wrangell’s borough assembly will consider increasing utility rates in town, to the tune of a five to 10 percent (5-10%) increase on an average bill. Assembly members will hold a public hearing on proposed increases at their regular meeting Tuesday (March 28). 

The borough’s fee and rate schedule is a 20-page document with a comprehensive list of every rate and fee in town. Since last summer, the borough has been pulling fees and rates out of local code and placing them in the designated schedule, which the assembly then considers annually at the beginning of its budget process. That annual review and approval will take place at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The assembly will have two different options to consider. One – Option A – would raise rates for an average household by about 10%, or around $34 a month. 

The other – Option B – would have the same increase in water and sewer rates, but smaller increases for electrical rates and Port & Harbor fees. That would mean around $26 per month more for the average Wrangell bill. 

At the meeting, the assembly will also hold a second public hearing on specific building permit fees. That public hearing will happen before the assembly adopts the full fee and rate schedule. 

After the public hearings, Wrangell’s assembly is set to discuss purchasing just over $148,000 worth of what’s called “compensatory mitigation” as a part of a permit agreement allowing road development at the future Alder Top Village subdivision. The mitigation payment is required to get a permit to fill in the wetland area, which is located at the site of the former BIA Wrangell Institute boarding school. 

Assembly members will also discuss setting aside almost $1.5 million in federal pandemic relief for a project that will connect the community’s upper drinking water reservoir to the water treatment plant. This new money will be added to just over $2 million secured by Senator Lisa Murkowski for the project last year

It’s not the only major water project in town. Wrangell is working to finance a new drinking water treatment plant, and the assembly may authorize an application for an interim loan of $3.8 million from the state’s revolving loan fund to put toward that project. The interim loan would cover the same amount as a federal loan obtained by the borough a few years ago. 

Elsewhere in the borough, officials are moving forward with applications for grant funds for two transportation-related projects: a sidewalk installation on Second Avenue and road resurfacing of a few downtown streets. To move the applications along, the borough assembly has to pre-approve a local match of about 9% of the projects’ estimated costs. That’s a $62,500 match for the sidewalk project and $837,000 for the roads.

At the Nolan Center in downtown Wrangell, the ground is settling underneath a storage building, and structural repairs are needed to maintain the building’s integrity. The assembly could approve $110,000 to fund stabilization and repairs. 

While much of the borough assembly’s focus is on Wrangell proper, there are a few other communities within the borough boundaries. One, Meyers Chuck, has a dock that’s disintegrating. The assembly will consider approving just over $332,000 to design a harbor replacement at the site, about 40 miles south of Wrangell. 

View the full agenda for the meeting here.

Anyone wishing to speak at the meeting or during the Rate & Fee public hearing can sign up on the “Persons to be Heard” sheet located at City Hall. 

The Wrangell Borough Assembly meeting will air live on KSTK beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 28) on 101.7 FM and online at KSTK.org. 

Get in touch with KSTK at news@kstk.org or (907) 874-2345.