The New Orleans City Council this week will consider a proposal to double water and sewerage rates over the next 8 years. And that’s the topic of this week’s Commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.
Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst
Public officials are loath to raise taxes and fees — that’s as it should be. Asking taxpayers to pay more should always be a last resort.
This week, the New Orleans City Council faces that dilemma. The federal government ordered the city to fix water and sewer lines well before Hurricane Katrina. The storm only made things worse.
Right now New Orleans loses about 40 percent of its water because of leaks. Sewer lines also are crumbling. Those leaks undermine the city’s entire infrastructure. If the city fails to act, it faces millions of dollars a year in daily fines — on top of rate increases that the feds could force upon us.
The mayor is asking council members to raise rates 10 percent a year for eight years. The Sewerage and Water Board initially proposed significantly higher rate increases — over a shorter period of time.
Some say we should study this issue more. Truth is, it’s been studied for almost a decade. It’s time to act. There is no magic fix, no alternative to higher rates.
At least this way, the council can dictate the terms of the rate hike — and work can begin soon to fix the broken systems.
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