Water rate increases approved

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 2, 2009


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — Faced with a $1.5 million deficit in the parish’s utility system fund, the St. John Council decided Tuesday to approve two ordinances that will affect the rates the parish charges for water in an effort to remedy a serious cash flow problem within the department.

The first ordinance pertains to a change in the method in which the parish calculates the consumer price index (CPI) for parish water services. Under the new system, residential customers could see a monthly bill increase of about $1.57.

The ordinance changes the water rate CPI from a National Consumer Price Index to the U.S. city average 12-month percentage change in the Water, Sewer and Trash Collection Service Group of Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The new index, which is the same one that is used to compute the annual consumer price index adjustment for the parish’s sewer rate, comes with a 6.7 percent rate adjustment. The previous CPI only produces a 1.1 percent adjustment.

The council voted 8-1 in favor of the measure, with Councilwoman Cheryl Millet casting the lone dissenting vote.

“In my heart, I just can’t do it,” Millet said before the vote. “I think the timing just isn’t right.”

The second ordinance, which also passed 8-1 with Councilman Dale Wolfe voting against, creates a $1 rate increase per thousand gallons on the parish’s two highest consumption tiers. This means that customers who use 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per month would be charged $3.93 per thousand. Customers using over 50,000 gallons would be charged $3.82 per thousand.

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the rate increase only affects about 380, or 2.3 percent, of the parish’s water customers. He said most of those 380 are big industry or commercial outlets in the parish.