SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - The Sulphur City Council passed three ordinances raising utilities rates for water, sewage, and trash Monday night.
Mayor Mike Danahay says his office has received several inquiries regarding why utility rates would be rising.
“The increase is on the revenue side, but on the expense side, we have a tremendous amount of backlog of deferred maintenance we need to address," Danahay said. "It’s been years in the making, so these are the revenues we need to address those fees.”
His office says the filter tanks need to be replaced, costing $875,000 each. The city’s three elevated water tanks need to be inspected and rehabilitated, costing $1,350,000. They say the city’s water pipes and connections are reaching the end of their life and need to be replaced, costing $25,000-$75,000 each. They say aging infrastructure, including water lines, is in need of replacement; the city is currently working to repair and replace older failing water lines, with the projects under construction costing $2,000,000 with an estimated $3,250,000 over the next five years. Sewer lines that are being replaced or lined in the sewer lining job will cost $4,200,000.
Other projects include the New Verdine Well ($700,000), removal and replacement of the existing ground storage tank ($1,725,000), and water treatment facility upgrades ($4,600,000).
“There are projects in the current budget, capitol projects, and of course the next year we’ll have an additional amount of capitol projects in the budget also,” Danahay said. “We’ll spread it over a period of time, but we have to account for it now, so that in the future we’ll have the monies available to do that project.”
While it was a public hearing, only one resident spoke in reference to the utilities raise.
“I do understand the need for our water and sewage increases, I really do," Donnie Fuslier said. “I get it. However, there has been a conversation that’s been going around our city for a very long time and that is the conversation of water meters. Anytime that I talk to anybody in administration or anyone on Council about it I get, well, we are doing studies. Well, we have been doing studies for ten years. It is past time for us to go to water meters. It is unfair that Ms. Heather, who lives next to me on Mustang Street, a single widow, by herself, pays as much as I do with me, my fiance, and three children and that I pay as much as the gentleman in my neighborhood who has five kids and a swimming pool.”
Danahay says they are not ruling out meters ever coming to Sulphur.
“We’ve had some conversations about it," Danahay said. “Nothing definitive as of yet. I will tell you it will take a lot of research to be able to determine what kind of cost goes into it, what additional costs will go along with it just as well before we make any moves to that in that direction. Not ruling it out, but it’s something right now because we know it’s something that needs to be long term. It’s not going to be immediate, if that’s the case.”
Danahay also addressed some concerns of discolored water in Sulphur.
“One of the issues taking place right now is that we have a well that’s down,” Danahay said. “It’s in the western portion of the city. In particular, there is a higher iron content that’s in place, so that’s why there’s discoloration in the water. It is completely safe. It has been tested by DHH. It is safe to drink.”
Danahay says anyone with questions is always welcome to contact him or their City Council members.
The ordinances will become effective July 1, 2019.