Pay Bills

Higher water bills could be on the way for New Orleans customers

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — In an effort to improve its aging system, rate hikes may be on the way for New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board customers.

A 3-6% rate increase was discussed at a board meeting on Wednesday, October 26. This decision would yield approximately $160 to $290 million to deal with aging infrastructure.

“We’re just going to put all the cards on the table and share our financial situations, our needs, what we know is ahead of us,” S&WB director Ghassan Korban said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell drew comparisons to critical failures in Jackson, Mississippi.

“It’s something that we have to deal with as a city, also with the city council,” Mayor Cantrell said. “We know politics is real here, but it’s also real in terms of sewage and drainage for this city.”

Mayor Cantrell said raising rates may be the only option to keep the city’s water, sewer and drainage system in working order for the next generation. She says the rates charged to customers merely pay off the debt and are not enough to pay for the improvements despite federal and state funding.

Council members say a rate hike will be a tough pill to swallow as many are already struggling to pay their bills. Councilman Joe Giarusso said 82% of utility complaints in the city of New Orleans were about water bills.

The city council is currently working on an ordinance that would improve the dispute and appeal process for customers with high bills.

“It’s broken and we need to fix it,” Giarusso said.

S&WB wants to hold at least five community meetings through the end of the year to discuss the proposal and how the money will be used.

Officials hope that an official proposal in January will be adopted and in place by next June.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include the title.