Public input sought on Ferriday water, garbage rates

Published 12:11am Monday, August 12, 2013

FERRIDAY — The Ferriday Board of Aldermen will receive public input on raising water and garbage rates at a 6 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at Town Hall.

The proposed monthly increases are $6 for water and $10 for garbage for town residents.

Mayor Gene Allen said the water increase is necessary as the town begins an overhaul of its water system.

The town received a $5 million grant and $1.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to switch the city’s water supply from Old River to groundwater wells, replacing outdated and non-functioning water meters and fixing broken pipes in the water distribution system.

Allen said the town could not repay the loan without a water-rate increase.

“We can’t vote no on increasing water rates,” he said. “If the city wants to continue to have an unreliable water supply, then we can keep water rates the same and we won’t be able to overhaul the water system. The USDA recommended raising water rates by $6, not me.”

The board of aldermen will also consider raising garbage rates to accommodate a second garbage pickup day.

Board members and residents have expressed their opinion against the increases in recent weeks.

Aldermen Elijah Banks circulated a letter last week outlining several reasons why he is against the increases.

Banks’ letter said the town should already collect enough money to repay the loan because of a water-rate increase earlier in the year.

He is against a garbage rate increase because the town currently collects $17,000 monthly for garbage, but Delta Disposal — Ferriday’s garbage collection company — only charges $12,775 monthly, the letter said.

Banks isn’t the only one that sees the garbage bill discrepancy as a problem.

Ferriday resident Emerson Slain said the difference in the amount collected by the town and the Delta Disposal garbage bill should prevent any rate increases.

“The fact that we are collecting more than the actual bill means we have some left over,” Slain said. “In that case, why do we even need to increase the bill?”

Allen said the excess collected by the town is used to pay a past-due garbage bill to Waste Management.

Waste management suspended garbage pickup in February after the city failed to pay a $200,000 garbage bill. The company hired Delta Disposal shortly after as a temporary measure.

Allen said the town pays Waste Management $7,500 monthly, using the excess fees collected from residents and the town’s general fund, to pay the past-due garbage bill.

“It doesn’t matter what your opinion is about the water bill is, it has to go up,” Allen said. “As for the garbage bill, I could care less whether pickup is once per week or twice per week.”