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Tallulah city council strikes down increased water rates after fierce debate

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:55 PM CST
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TALLULAH, La. (KNOE) - A heated and fierce debate took place at Tallulah’s city council meeting over a proposed water rate increase.

According to city officials, the rate increase is in conjunction with the council’s vote to submit a loan application to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the amount of $7.8 million. The loan would be used to rehabilitate the current water plant.

Here’s a breakdown of the proposal:

  • Residential rates would increase from a flat fee of $30 and $4.50 per 1000 gallons thereafter, to a flat fee of $35 and $6.75 per 1000 gallons. The average customer would see an overall increase of $12.03 per month.
  • For commercial customers, a flat fee of $50 would remain the same, but the rate of $5.50 per 1000 gallons would jump up to $6.75 per 1000 gallons. The average commercial customer would see an overall increase of $44 on their monthly bill.

A group of concerned citizens expressed to the council why they were dead set against the idea.

“Some days you wake up and smell the scent of chlorine where they’re trying to clean the system out. We can’t even drink the water, can’t bathe in it, and can’t cook with it. So asking for an increase with something that’s not useable is not feasible,” Toriano Wells said.

“It’s just not fair to pay for something that we can’t even use. It’s bad enough that we have to pay for it now when the water isn’t even accessible for us,” Sandra Patterson-Love said.

Toriano Wells is a resident in Tallulah. He said he would like to see an outline of how the money the water company is collecting is being used before asking people to pay more.

“We want better accountably with the money that we’re taking in now. If we can find out where the funds are going now that we’re generating, then citizens will be more receptive to what the city is offering us,” Wells said.

The board deliberated and voted unanimously to not approve the increase.

Yvonne Lewis, administrative assistant to the mayor, said the council will go back to the drawing board and consider a different proposal to satisfy all parties.

“I’m fine with paying the money that it is now, but for a rate increase with the water not being usable, that’s not sufficient for the citizens,” Wells said.

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