BREAUX BRIDGE – The chairman of the City Council’s Utilities Committee is not recommending an increase in utility rates despite what the city’s auditor called “slippage” in income from the Enterprise Fund.
District A Councilman Terry Thibodeaux, who chairs the Utilities Committee for the council, said he looked at the city’s rate compared to those of other area cities and found that “We are within the ballpark.”
He said he feels the city should stand pat on water and sewer rates, but he shared his findings with his colleagues on the council and invited their input after they’ve had a chance to study it.
Thibodeaux noted that Breaux Bridge raised its water rates 30 percent across the board in 2005, and then hiked the flat rate for up to 2,000 gallons another dollar – from $6.15 to $7.15 – in 2007.
“I think we’re in real good alignment with the economy the way it is,” Thibodeaux said.
The city’s Enterprise Fund was down $200,000 last year, primarily because of increase expenses involved in the production and delivery of utilities, auditor Russell Champagne reported in December.
Overall, the financial health of the city remains good, Champagne said, with the audit showing an increase of $920,000 in net assets.
The city raised long-stagnant utility fees beginning in 2005 after repeated deficits in the Enterprise Fund, from $664,811 in 2003 to $627,911 for 2004, made deep cuts in the city’s reserves.
“You can continue to look at ways to cut, but it’s time to look at increasing revenues,” Champagne said at the time.
Fees had remained static for 33 years while the city grew in size and costs increased.
Mayor Jack Dale Delhomme, who has predicted the 2010 U.S. Census will reveal a population of 10,000 in Breaux Bridge, said the large elderly and indigent segments of the population make providing city services akin to walking a tightrope.
“You don’t want to make money off of these types of people selling utilities but at the same time you can’t lose money,” he said.