NEW ORLEANS — A new drainage fee to pay for Sewerage and Water Board projects is one of the ideas that came up following a state-mandated Sewerage and Water Board task force meeting on Monday.
The idea of a new drainage fee to pay for projects through the Sewerage and Water Board isn't new, it's been floated around Landrieu Administration. But try selling a fee hike to residents now in the middle of dealing with S&WB issues.
"They had to dig up the entire sidewalk as well as my garden to repair something that was not broken," Diane Kelly said.
Kelly has no idea why crews showed up to her home on North Derbigny Wednesday morning to change her water meter.
"And I'm very frustrated over here because this is the second time this has occurred," she said.
She calls it a waste of resources. Other customers, like Marcia from the Mid-City area paid her property taxes at City Hall. She says S&WB hasn't done enough to stop flooding.
"It's the most important issue in our city," Marcia said.
But it's also expensive. Monday's report specifically mentioned that S&WB should consider a storm-water fee since its drainage department is critically underfunded. The idea has been floated before. City Councilman Joe Giarrusso who heads up the Public Works Committee says he's heard the Sewerage Board say it's tapped out many times.
"That's what they say, but they haven't peeled back the layers, and I think that's what they need to do," Giarrusso said.
He's also heard from residents and they don't want more fees.
"Unanimously they're all opposed and when I went to one of them, they laughed at me," he said.
But Giarrusso points out, that the S&WB's drainage is only funded by property taxes. Non-profits, such as schools, churches and hospitals are exempt.
"Everybody is affected by drainage and by streets then they should be at the table, and frankly they should be willing participants," he added.
When will the shoe drop? There is no timeline for when serious discussion about the possible fee might happen. But residents like Kelly worry that the repair today makes her weary.
"Absolutely not," she said. "I think that we're being charged enough fees."
Others like Marcia wonder, if there's really an option.
"We are going to pay more in drainage or we're going to pay it in property damage."