10% increases are effective January 1
The New Orleans City Council has voted 5-2 to approve a plan to raise sewer and water rates 10% every year for the next 8 years, doubling current monthly charges by 2020.
The first increases will take effect January 1.
The dissenting votes were cast by council president Stacy Head and the interim representative of District E, Freddie Charbonnet.
It's estimated that an average family of four will see bills jump from about $52 per month to $112 in 2020. Businesses also will see their bills more than double. Commercial customers using 375,000 gallons of water a month will pay $6,336 monthly in 2020, up from just under the $3,000 they currently pay.
Mayor Landrieu and the Sewerage & Water Board say the increases are necessary to repair aging infrastructure, pay off outstanding debt and create cash reserves.
"A true leader is one who makes difficult decisions for the right reasons at the right time," said council member Cynthia Hedge Morrell, before casting her vote.
Council action came on the first day the body could legally vote on the increases.
Council VP Jackie Clarkson who led the campaign for a quick vote said she felt "very priveleged" to lead the charge. "This legislation increases sewer and water board rates, but they will not double immediately," she said.
While council president Stacy Head had appealed for a delay, contending the public had not had an opportunity to thoroughly weigh in on the huge increases, the Mayor said citizens had plenty of occasions over the past 18 months to comment.