Budget talks continued Tuesday at LCG headquarters. The government run utilities system presented a proposal for funding next year. But, the big news from the hearing is that LUS Fiber, which has operated in the red since its inception three years ago, is now making money.
LUS is in a unique position. They're one of the only publicly run utilities systems in the country as well as communications provider, but after three years building LUS Fiber's infrastructure and customer base on the public's dime, now they're in a position to give back.
"We had zero customers, and we had to build all those infrastructures and obviously there was no way we could pay for all that," says LUS Director, Terry Huval.
Huval presented the proposed budgets for both LUS and LUS Fiber. The LUS budget came in about a half a million dollars less than last year and the fiber or communications side requested a little less than two million more. But the big news came from the communications side. Huval proudly notified the council that fiber operations will be fully profitable next fiscal year.
"We're finally able to get that particular point which was a huge accomplishment. It was ahead of schedule, so we're excited about that," says Huval.
It took loans from parish government and tax payer money to get LUS Fiber up and running. Now they can pay all of the cost associated with running the day to day operations. Huval says their market share is growing everyday so the company was able to lift minimum service requirements.
"Now if you want to buy the most basic services we have and that's all they want buy, we will proved them with that," explains Huval.
Some of those basic services cost around 40 dollars. The news also had government officials pleased. Because, as revenues continue to grow, LUS Fiber, in the next two years will be able to start contributing to the general fund. Similar to the $22 million from the utilities side, which goes towards funding anything from law enforcement to public parks.
"We think it's wonderful to have a competitively based service that's providing services people want to buy today, and being able to take so much money off of that and reduce tax burden on the community," says Huval.
The only major news on the utilities end is an expected $88 million dollar project for LUS's coal plant in Boyce, Louisiana which needs to be upgraded to comply with new federal emission standards.