RAYNE, La. – (KLFY) Water rate hikes in the city of Rayne has several business owners talking about how city leaders have left them out to dry. And now, they want to go back to drawing board to find a solution that won’t cause as many waves.
Business owners in the city of Rayne are sounding the alarm on the recent rise in water rates.
“The issue here is, number one, is not the need to raise rates but the manner and the amount and the way it was handled.”
Jared Lawless is the owner of South Rayne Water Cooperation, providing water to residents outside of the city limits— but his office is sits on the Boulevard, right across from city hall. He’s one of over 300 businesses affected by the increase.
“I use less than 1000 gallons per month and it’s been that way for years”, Lawless said.
Same goes for Roland Boudreaux. His bills show consistent usage dating back several months, but now he finds himself paying a 500% increase— for a business that doesn’t make any money.
“My utility bill with electricity and water used to be about $60. From $5(for water) to $50, that just put it over $100 every month”, said Boudreaux.
Boudreaux says he keeps the LLC to his car restoration business for insurance purposes. He, and Lawless both agree an increase is necessary, but not for the amount it was raised.
City of Rayne Mayor Chuck Robichaux said, “We have a lot of needed improvement. We are redoing our water clarifier and the maintenance, just the maintenance on our system, an aged system. Our water plant is 53 years since the last major improvement.”
Robichaux also mentioned it had been ten years since the city last raised water rates. He said the following in a video message on the city’s Facebook page: “Citizens may disagree about water fees going up and I get that. But, if we didn’t do this now and make necessary changes, the city of Rayne will experience critical water problems; endangering our citizens, businesses, and schools.”
It’s those same businesses that have been hit with the brunt of increases: going from $5.25 a month, to a minimum of 5,000 gallons at $50 a month.
“A business has an opportunity to adjust their prices on their services to the public, commercial and residential to offset any increases in expenditures they have as a business. Residences don’t”, Robichaux said.
Todd Abshire with Louisiana Rural Water Association spoke at length during council meetings about the need for a water rate increase.
According to Abshire a rate study revealed not only a loss of 400k, but the city was not in compliance as a USDA funded water system.
Lawless is suggesting the council temporarily reduce the new rates on commercial users who use less than 5,000 gallons a month, redo the rate study before moving forward.
It’s worth noting that city officials followed protocol by posting public notices of the intent to raise water prices in the city newspaper and on the City of Rayne’s website.
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