City Council approves utility rate increases

The Natchitoches City Council voted to take Ordinance No. 86 from the table at its meeting on Jan. 23. The item, which was passed Monday night, was to implement a new utility rate schedule.

After tabling this item at its Jan. 9 meeting, more research was done and other options were explored. A revolving loan fund, which has a much lower annual payment, will allow the City to lower the adjustments it was initially proposing. This takes the annual payout from $1.2 million to $500,000 to support the funding for the water treatment plant.

This takes the 1.5 cent increase, down to a 1.2 cent increase on electricity rates.  A $2 base rate increase for water and sewer and an additional $2 per 1,000 gallons over the 2,000 gallon minimum used per user for water and sewer. 

The 1.2 cent increase will generate an additional revenue of $2.4 million for the City. The total additional amount consumers can expect to see reflected on their bills, on average, is around $13. Smaller homes may see a $10 increase while larger homes may see a $24-25 increase on utility rates.

The increases in the rates will generate the following amounts:

Water – $908,000 (around $7 increase per month per household)

Sewer – $645,000 (40% of consumers would see a $2 increase here)

The rates will be rolled out through a two-year implementation period. The first half would start on May 1, 2023 with the other half starting May 1, 2024.

The City has plans for the new revenue. Proposed use of additional funds will go toward operational enhancements including the water treatment plan ($550,000 per year), salary increases to a more marketable level ($1.7 million including retirement contributions), fire to raise to $11 per hour ($794,000), police to raise to $16 per hour ($640,000), and marketing analysis for non civil service ($332,000).

Looking for sustainability, the City also has plans to allocate $962,000 back to water and sewer to help them sustain their operations and timely maintenance at their plants.

Council members Rosemary Washington Elie and Chris Petite voted against the ordinance.

Other agenda items include:

PLANNING & ZONING – FINAL:

Amend Ordinance No. 64 Of 2001 By Changing Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: East ½ Of Lots 4 And 11, Block “A” Of Natchitoches South Subdivision And Lots 5 And 12, Block “A” Of Natchitoches South Subdivision (Hwy 3110)

ORDINANCES – FINAL:

Extend The City Limits Of The City Of Natchitoches Annexing A 2.17 Acre, More Or Less, Tract Situated In Section 40, Township 9 North, Range 8 West, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, Said Tract Lying Adjacent To And North Of Louisiana Highway 3278, Together With That Area Of Louisiana Highway 3278 Situated Between The 2.18 Acre Tract And The Existing Municipal Limits Of The City Of Natchitoches, And Further Providing For The Fixing Of A Public Hearing, Advertisement, Fixing Council District For Same, Fixing Zoning Classification And Providing For An Effective Date Of The Ordinance.

Provide For The Division Of The Current Position Of Purchasing And Human Resources Into Two Separate Positions, To Amend The Personnel Policies Manual To Provide For The New Position Of Human Resources In The Organizational Chart, Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.

Amend the 2022 – 2023 Budget To Reflect Additional   Revenues and Expenditures.

Amend the 2022 – 2023 Budget To Reflect Additional   Revenues and Expenditures.

ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:

Enter Into A Lease Of A 29.7 Acre Tract In The Industrial Park For Hay Operations With M & M Farms Of Cane River, L.L.C., And Authorizing The Mayor, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute Said Lease On Behalf Of The City Of Natchitoches, And To Provide For Advertising.

Enter Into A Lease Of A 25 Acre Tract In The Industrial Park For Hay Operations With James R. Stacy, And Authorizing The Mayor, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute Said Lease On Behalf Of The City Of Natchitoches, And To Provide For Advertising.

Authorize A Lease Of That Area Under Fence At The Natchitoches Regional Airport For Hay Operations With James Russell Stacy, And Authorizing The Mayor, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute Said Lease On Behalf Of The City Of Natchitoches, And To Provide For Advertising.

Execute An Agricultural Lease From The City Of Natchitoches In Favor Of John Danley And Sally Danley Of That Property Located Between The South Louisiana Highway 1 By-Pass And Waterwell Road Being Tracts “B” And “D” As Shown On A Survey By Glen L. Cannon, Dated October 2005 And Recorded At Map Slide 569-B Of The Records Of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, And Further Consenting To A Sublease From Pilgim’s Pride To Russell Stacy Of Tract “B” As Shown On A Survey By Glen L. Cannon, Dated October 2005 And Recorded At Map Slide 569-B Of The Records Of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, And Further Providing For Advertising Of The Lease, A Public Hearing  And An Effective Date.

Designate Funds From The American Rescue Plan To Assist With The Water Treatment Project In The City Of Natchitoches That Are Essential To Public Health And Welfare And To Otherwise Provide With Respect Thereto.

RESOLUTIONS:

Approve The Execution Of The Contract By And Between The State Of Louisiana, Division Of Administration, Office Of Community Development, And The City Of Natchitoches For The FY ‘2021-2022’ Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) For The Amount Of $13,500.00 To Purchase Hazmat Suits, Gas Detectors, Rubber Boots And Gloves For The Natchitoches Fire Department.

Enter Into A Master Services Agreement With KSA Engineers Inc.

Approve The Software Change Order Between The City Of Natchitoches And Motorola Solutions, Inc., To Provide For Data Conversion Related To Certain Communications Equipment And Authorizing The Mayor, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute The Software Change Order On Behalf Of The City Of Natchitoches.

Approve The Terms And Form Of A Cooperative Endeavor Agreement Between The City Of Natchitoches And The Louisiana Office Of The Lieutenant Governor Department Of Culture, Recreation & Tourism Authorizing The Mayor To Execute The Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) Between The City Of Natchitoches And The Louisiana Office Of The Lieutenant Governor Department Of Culture, Recreation & Tourism Which Will Provide For Terms For Keep Louisiana Beautiful Beautification Grant.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The next scheduled City Council meeting will be February 13, 2023.