Water and sewer rates going up in Lake Charles

Water and sewer rates going up in Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles residents have paid the same water and sewage rates for the last three years, but soon that will change.

"We haven't had an increase since 2014," said city administrator John Cardone.

And with the growth Lake Charles is seeing, Cardone say's it something that has to happen.

"It's not that we want to increase rates," he said. "We don't want to increase water rates or sewer rates. It's something that you have to do to keep up with the costs of operations, the costs of salaries and the cost of providing the water and sewer treatment that's so critical."

Rates would go up two percent, and help pay for things like the new multi-million dollar water plant, and other million dollar repairs, and improvements to water and sewage facilities within the city.

The city also did a survey this year that shed some more details about the current rates.

"What we found out of four cities, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Sulphur, Lake Charles current rates is lower than those cities."

Raising rates ultimately gets decided by city council members who all had different views and questions.

"I know that there is a need, however with 75% of my constituents not able to pay this I cannot support this," said council woman Mary Morris.

" I feel this is really geared to the high end user," said council president John Iyeoub. "The one who really uses the bulk of the water."

"I don't think we can ask people to pay more for the water that they can't use," said vice president, Mark Eckard.

"We have to move on with it to get it done, and with that in mind, I'll support this," said councilman Rodney Geyen.

With a five to one vote, council members approved the rate change, and Cardone believes this change will help the city in the long run.

"We think it's important that we just raise these rates a little bit to make sure we can cover our operational needs, and also to cover the capital needs for the city in the future."

The new rates won't take effect immediately.

For those who use less than 100,000 gallons of water a month, they will start paying their two percent increase in 2020. For those who use more than 100,000 gallons of water they will start paying in 2019.

An example of what the increase would look like is if you pay $48.61 you would pay $50.96 with the two percent increase. That price also includes the capital improvement fee.

The capital improvement fee for most users as of July 1, 2018  will increase from $1.40 to $2.10 and then will increase again on January 1, 2019 to $2.80.

All funds generated by the capital improvement fee will be used for water and sewage system improvements.

When it comes to the issue of some residents experiencing brown water in certain areas of the city, Cardone says they've brought in a consultant that will provide information to allow the city to identify and eventually fix the issue.

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