Baker Considers Water, Sewer Fee Hikes

BAKER, LA (AP) — The Baker City Council has introduced for a second time proposed ordinances that would raise sewer and water rates.

         The Advocate’s Emily Beck Cogburn reports the proposed ordinances will be up for adoption at the council's Jan. 13 meeting.

         The water rate ordinance calls for increasing the flat water fee from $9 to $15 per month for city residents. The per-gallon usage would go up from $1.50 to $1.75 per thousand gallons. Most homeowners' per-gallon total cost would increase $1 per month, Mayor Harold Rideau has said.

         The sewer rate ordinance would increase the sewer fee from $14 to $16 per month for residents.

         The proposal also calls for tying utility rates to the Consumer Price Index, which would allow the city to raise rates to keep up with inflation.

         The council introduced the same utility rate proposal in May, but in June voted 4-1 against adopting it.

         Councilman Pete Heine said he put the proposed ordinances back on the agenda because his constituents are worried about possible cuts to public safety.

         "They are concerned about calling the police in the middle of the night and having the dispatcher tell them that the officers are out on other calls," he said.

         Baker's surplus will run out this year and, by state law, the city will be able to spend only what it takes in, Heine said.

         "You can check the finances until your tongue hangs out, but I can tell you it's serious," he said.

         Though he voted in favor of introducing the ordinances, Councilman John Givens expressed reservations about increasing sewer and water rates, adding that he doesn't understand why his utility bill is so much higher than that of others in his subdivision.

         Additional Coverage

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