NEW ORLEANS - The war of words is heating up over an upcoming vote on the possibility of eventually doubling the city's water and sewerage rates.
Late Monday night, the board's president fired back against New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head's push to try to delay voting on the proposal.
Upon Mayor Mitch Landrieu's request, the original plan for the Sewerage and Water Board was changed and has been approved by the board.
The adjusted plan calls for rate increases of 10 percent per year for the next eight years. By the year 2020, residents' bills would be doubled in comparison to their 2012 bill.
The city council's budget committee will debate the proposal Wednesday, and it is up for an approval vote in front of the entire city council on Thursday.
In a statement released by the New Orleans Coalition on Open Government, Head objected and asked for a delay of the vote. She said more public opinion needs to be heard on this important issue.
"A decision of this magnitude deserves much public discussion and scrutiny," Head said. "This vote is premature, and I see no reason to rush it to conclusion in the next four days."
Head's statement incurred a quick response from Ray Manning, the president pro-tem of the S&WB.
He noted that 40 percent of the system's water is leaking, and repairs that would be funded by rate hikes are badly needed.
"To say that we are rushing is a gross characterization fo the facts. There have been over 30 publicly-noticed S&WB meetings. The time to act is now," Manning said.
Head's request for a deferral was not granted, which she said is unusual.