St. John sets major water meter overhaul

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 31, 2006


Managing Editor

LAPLACE — The St. John Parish Council this week approved borrowing $5.65 million by a bond issuance to finance a major overhaul of its water metering and billing system.

Without discussion, the council approved Hancock Bank’s bid of 4.18 percent on the bonds, which transaction is now only pending approval by the Louisiana Bond Commission.

Those funds will pay for replacing the parish’s 15,000 water meters with computerized readers aimed at accuracy and speed of checking the meters for accuracy.

Originally, the project was estimated to cost $6.2 million, but a final review dropped that price to $5,650,000.

The results which this overhaul and upgrade of the system could help St. John Parish recover more than $600,000 annually in revenues now lost through inaccurate readings or billings. &#8220Obviously, the savings will pay for the project itself,” Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom said.

Residents have complained for years about inaccurate water bills, especially the large industrial users, and audits conducted over the past several years have shown &#8220we’re losing a lot of water” through inaccurate readings, Robottom continued.

The new meters will provide a faster, correct reading of meters and help the parish recoup its losses through this modern system.

The parish is expected to close with Hancock Bank Aug. 10 on the bond sale.

In other activity at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting, council membes approved the appointment of Charles Landry as a code enforcement officer. The responsibilities have grown over time, and four positions are approved. However, Landry is now one of two officers, with the other two positions going begging, with turnover high, Robottom told the council.

The position pays $1,250 a month to start, but as Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard noted, &#8220It’s a full-time job. It’s not a good retirement job.”

Finally, Sorrento-based River Parishes Community College will be offering classes at First United Methodist Church on U.S. 51 in LaPlace, starting on Aug. 21. For more information on this satellite program, call (225) 675-8270.