[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish Council discusses possible water and sewer rate hikes

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Mar 6 00:34:26 EST 2014

St. Bernard Parish Council discusses possible water and sewer rate hikes
Print Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Benjamin
Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on March 05, 2014 at 9:40 PM, updated March 05, 2014 at 9:42 PM

The St. Bernard Parish Council on Wednesday evening introduced a proposal
that would increase water and sewer rates by 34 percent to help improve
infrastructure in a water system that has been scrutinized since a
brain-eating amoeba was found in the system last fall.

The water and sewer funds have been running a near $3 million deficit, "and
basically that means that needed capital improvements haven't been done to
the system," said Councilman Ray Lauga, who is the chairman of the council's
Water and Sewer Committee.

Lauga said many of the parish's pipes are crumbling due to age and that the
parish has not had a rate increase since 1997. He said the increase likely
would amount to about $10 to $15 more on the average water bill.

For residents who use about 10,000 gallons a month, the bill would increase
from $34.27 to $46.70.

Lauga said he expects the increase would bring in about $1.6 million a year,
which could help pay for a $21 to $27 million loan that the parish is
attempting to get for water line improvements.

"It still will be the cheapest water rates in the New Orleans area," Lauga

He said that for 10,000 gallons of water, Slidell residents comparably pay
about $48 a month and Jefferson Parish residents pay about $65.

Under the proposal, water rates would increase from $1.65 for each thousand
gallon of metered water use to $2.06. Sewer rates would increase from $2.03
to $2.90.

The minimum charges for sewer and water services also would increase. The
minimum water charge would jump from $6.60 to $12 a month, and the minimum
sewer charge would rise from $9.64 to $20 a month.

Councilman Guy McInnis pushed for a third-party audit of the water and sewer
system, something that Lauga said could push back a vote on the water issue
until after a company is hired and an audit is completed. The earliest the
water and sewer rate increase could be voted on is at the March 18 council

In other matters at the Wednesday council meeting, the administration
announced that the first Louisiana Land Trust lot auction is scheduled for
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 12 in Arabi Elementary School's gymnasium at 7200
Alexander Ave.

There will be a $1,000 refundable deposit required to bid on the 136 empty
lots, and a $3,000 deposit to bid on seven lots that still have structures
on them. Payment for purchased lots must be made in cash, by money order or
with a cashier's check.

There will be buyer's seminar to further explain the nuances of that auction
from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 27 at the parish Council Chambers, 8205 W.
Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette.

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