City wants to raise Entergy's fees to fix streetlights

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 11:28 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans leaders estimate 44,000 out of 54,000 streetlights across the city are broken beyond repair.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is floating an idea to generate enough money to replace those lights and properly maintain the rest. He wants to raise Entergy's franchise fee from 5 percent to 7 percent of gross receipts to help light up the city.

"At the end of the day it's the people of New Orleans who pay for everything, whether you pay it through taxes or Entergy bill," said Landrieu. "It's the people of New Orleans who either get the service or don't have the services."

The estimated $10 million fee increase would mean the average Entergy customer would pay an additional $2 to $3 a month.

Entergy New Orleans customers have mixed feelings about the increase.

"The money, I can't see it," said one customer. "But, we do need streetlights."

Another customer said, "I think it's worth the two extra dollars a month to have working streetlights."

"I think it's just another way a receiving money that gets lost somewhere in the council or in the city," said another.

New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head said tying streetlight repairs to Entergy bills makes sense because everybody pays a little and benefits from a brighter city.

But, she said utility increases on top of property tax hikes on top of sewerage and water board increases add up.

"I understand that and certainly that's going to influence my decision as to whether I'm for this at the end of the day," said Head.

"What we're trying to do in the city, again is to try to find a fiscally responsible way to provide a service that the people of New Orleans say they need," said Landrieu.

Entergy New Orleans declined to be interviewed for this story. In a letter to the City Council, the utility stated that the city cannot raise the franchise fee without its consent.

While Entergy questions whether such a fee increase is justified, it has agreed to discuss the matter with city leaders.

 

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