Alderman discuss Franklinton water, sewer rates

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Franklinton Board of Aldermen met Mardi Gras day and began its discussion on a potential increase to the town’s water and sewer rates.

Alderman Brad Orman presented a report on the Finance Committee meeting held earlier that day, saying sewer and water rates were the big topic of conversation. The town’s water rates, to his knowledge, have always been equal for residential and commercial customers.

“We discussed changing that to increase the commercial slightly more than the residential,” he said.

Mayor Wayne Fleming said a survey conducted by the Louisiana Rural Water Association found that it is costing the town more to maintain and run the water and sewer system than is budgeted.

The basic rate for up to 1,000 gallons of water is currently $14 per month, and the monthly charge for each additional 1,000 gallons is now $1.25.

A slight increase to the water, sewer and commercial rates is being discussed, as additional revenue is needed, Orman said.

The current fee structure has been in place since 2008.

Taking into consideration senior citizens and those on a fixed income, Reggie McMasters, Maintenance Department superintendent, suggested the board concentrate on the biggest users through an increase to the per-thousand rate.

“The usage is where you want to gain thereafter,” he said. “Most of your people who are fixed income people, they’re not going to use more than the minimum, so you keep that at a basic rate.”

Further information on the proposed water and sewer rates will brought back to the board at a future meeting. Once the board finalizes the rates, the plan will be sent to the USDA for approval, Fleming said.

Also during the Finance Committee meeting, the police department discussed the need for an updated computer system, Orman said. The department, he said, has requested between $50,000 and $55,000 for a police tracking system, as its current computer system is no longer supported. The department will be “piggybacking” with the sheriff’s office on the system, so its cost is projected to be in the $50,000 range, rather than the $200,000 or more it would be otherwise, he said. However, there is a chance the system could be purchased for less than that, he noted.

The police department asked for an additional $31,000 to purchase a police car it did not get matching funds on and requested funds be budgeted for 19 patrol rifles, one for each vehicle, at a total cost of $27,000, Orman said. Last month, $8,300 was budgeted for a police car, with the rest of the cost on that vehicle being paid through matching funds.

In the town’s general fund, $100,000 is budgeted for the police department, Orman said. If the requested expenditures are more than that, the excess would come from the police ad valorem fund, he said.

The board authorized Mayor Wayne Fleming to execute a master service agreement with KSA Alliance, appointing the firm as engineer of the Franklinton Municipal Airport.

During her report on the Administrative Department, town clerk Merty Fitzmorris provided an update on the town’s garbage can inventory effort. The town’s Maintenance Department has been placing stickers on cans that residents are paying for and picking up additional cans for which the town is receiving no payment. As of the day of the meeting, about 15 streets remained, and she said the town hopes to have a concrete count on garbage cans within a couple of weeks.

Continuing that conversation during his Maintenance Department report, McMasters said more than 100 cans have been picked up so far.