- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The cost of water consumption is on the rise in East Baton Rouge Parish.

For the 13th consecutive year, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1R70MYv) residents will be subjected to a 4 percent increase in their sewer bills that began Jan. 1 to finance a federally mandated sewer system overhaul.

Year to year, the increases are mostly negligible. In 2015, the average sewer user fee for 8,600 gallons of water per month was $45.67. The 2016 average will tick up to $47.50 a month.

That’s an increase of $1.83 per month, or about $22 a year.

But in 2004, when the annual 4 percent increases went into effect, the average monthly bill was only $29.67.

The annual increases aren’t expected to go away anytime soon. In fact, there is no projected date for the fee increases to sunset.

Mark LeBlanc, assistant public works director for capital improvements, said the 4 percent increases should continue until at least 2025, at which point the average monthly bill will be $67.60. At that point, LeBlanc said, he could recommend that bills continue to go up every year but he would be able to lower annual increases to 2 percent. But there’s no telling if and when Baton Rouge residents can expect to see an end to annual rises in the cost of flushing toilets and washing dishes.

East Baton Rouge has amassed tremendous debt to pay for the total rehabilitation of the crumbling sewer system, prone to backups that can cause sewage to flow into residential streets and people’s homes during heavy rains.

The parish has issued $1.37 billion of debt to date to finance the program and has an outstanding principal debt of $1.35 billion. Annual debt payments will range from $66 million to $86 million between next year and 2025, LeBlanc said. After that, they are expected to gradually decrease until 2047, when the debt will be paid off.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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