Morgan City council approves surcharge extension, sewer rate increase

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

The City Council approved a 2.25-mil power bill surcharge extension Tuesday for 12 more months to pay for work to complete the city’s fiber optic loop and approved an increase in sewer rates to break even in the sewer department.
The surcharge extension will remain at $2.25 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours used. The original surcharge was passed in December 2012 to pay for the cost of installing a 69 kV breaker to provide protection for the new transformer. The surcharge went into effect on Jan. 1 and was scheduled to expire at the end of 2013. The extension will allow the surcharge to continue through the end of 2014.
The original surcharge was expected to raise about $380,000, but did not raise as much as expected. The extension is expected to bring the total raised to about $700,000 to cover work to allow the city’s power substations so each station can communicate with one another, Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
Many of the city’s power problems are due to the city’s outdated power system. “This is an opportunity to get it (the power system) to where we can shed load without shedding half the city at a time, and give us a much more stable electrical system,” Grizzaffi said.
The city’s new transformer is scheduled to be in use by January. Once the new Louisiana Energy and Power Authority Plant is built, Morgan City will be “as good or better than most (power) systems around the state,” Grizzaffi said.
The council also passed a resolution to increase residential sewer user rates from 47 percent of the total monthly bill to 100 percent and to increase commercial rates from 62 percent of the monthly bill to 100 percent of the bill.
The city has lost more than $600,000 in the sewer department in 2013. The city had been subsidizing the sewer department with a sewer solid waste tax from St. Mary Parish, “but it has left our infrastructure neglected.”
The sewer rate increase will allow the city “to go neutral in the sewer department” and allow the solid waste tax to pay for the cost of maintaining the city’s sewer system, Grizzaffi said.
That sewer rate increase will raise about $700,000 to basically break-even in the sewer department, he said.

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