In The News › Sewerage & Water Board schedules public meetings over rate increase plan

Sewerage & Water Board schedules public meetings over rate increase plan

by Jennifer Larino, CityBusiness

New Orleans residents will have a chance starting Monday to weigh in on a proposed plan to more than double Sewerage and Water Board customer rates over the next five years.

Through a series of three public meetings, the agency will provide details on the proposed rate increases and anticipated need for funds to repair and upgrade hundreds of miles of sewer and water lines throughout the city, rebuild its outdated power plant, make drainage improvements and operate drainage pump and floodgates added after Hurricane Katrina.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans approved a budget that will allocate $1.3 billion for capital improvements in 2012 in December as well as a capital program that will direct nearly $3 billion to improvements to sewer, water and drainage over the next nine years.

Consultants recommended major rate increases to cover its $600 million portion of the improvements in October.

The bill for a typical homeowner would climb from an average $52.50 per month to $124.06 per month in 2016, according to the plan prepared by Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc.

The bill for a mid-size business would also rise from an average of $2,956 per month now to $5,842 per month in 2016. The Times-Picayune provided a breakout of how the rate increases will affect residents and business owners back in October.

Talk of fee increases comes at a time when government watchdogs are calling on the city to rethink the way the S&WB is run and who directs the flow of funding.

In an October report, the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit policy research organization in New Orleans, recommended removing elected officials from the board and giving the board authority to increase water and sewerage rates by an indexed amount annually, citing that local politics have long interfered with needed rate increases.

For those interested in giving their two cents here are the locations of the upcoming public hearings. All meetings start at 6 p.m.

Jan. 23
Dryades Street YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Jan. 26
City Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido St.

Jan. 30
Lindy Boggs Conference Center, 2043 Lakeshore Drive

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