Special to Journal Services
After years of (Springhill) City subsidizing the water department through funds from the general fund, the city council has agreed to rate increases to help the water system become financially sustainable, meeting the requirements required by the State of Louisiana.
Increases will begin in October of 2023.
Representatives from the Louisiana Rural Water Association (LRWA) explained why the adjustments are necessary. According to the studies done by the LRWA, from a public health, environmental, and growth standpoint, the system must generate enough revenue to be self-supporting, “Springhill has reached a point where they cannot continue to fund operations of the water system from other city funds or they will lose opportunities for grants and other funding from the federal government to help maintain the system,” said Ken Terry, Compliance Assessment Manager for LRWA.
More than 10 million dollars has gone to the maintenance and upgrade of the system over the last 10 years. The system has addressed environmental and public health concerns while maintaining compliance with DEQ and EPA regulations. In addition, the mayor, alderman and some city employees have attended or will attend water management training for the water system to help with the scoring of the water system letter grade by the Louisiana Department of Health.
“Springhill’s current rates simply have not covered costs and we can’t continue to fund the system at the expense of other major infrastructure projects,” said Ray Huddleston, Mayor. “If we are to meet the requirements outlined in Act 98 adopted in 2021, we are required to make our water and sewer system financially sustainable.”
A large portion of the costs associated with the water system are the USDA loans that had to be taken out to cover the costs of the new water lines that the DEQ and EPA required the city to replace. These loans are paid back through funds generated by the water system.
Residential fees will be a base rate of $30 monthly which includes the first 1,000 gallons and $6.50 per every 1,000 gallons thereafter. Commercial rates will increase to $60 base rate which includes 1,000 gallons and then $10 per every 1,000 gallons thereafter. Residents outside city limits will increase to $41 including 1,000 gallons and then $8 per every $1,000 gallons. The ordinance is available on Facebook or at Springhill City Hall. The ordinance allows for a 2 percent per year increase each year for the next 4 years allowing the city to cover the increasing cost of maintenance, supplies and required chemicals.
The city has already spent roughly $2 million to subsidize the system over the past 5 years and must make the system self-sustainable to avoid the prospect of the system being taken over by the state to bring it into compliance with the law.
The only thing that will increase are the water rates for the city. Sewer and Garbage will remain the same.