Sulphur considers price hikes for water, sewer service, trash pickup

Published 6:17 am Friday, April 5, 2024

The Sulphur City Council will meet Monday, April 8, for its regular meeting. On the agenda – increasing the price of water, sewer service, trash pickup and the capital project fee. The overall bill will go up $5.75 monthly, a 7.21 percent increase.

“We’ve been increasing pricing on water, sewer and trash every year,” said Mayor Mike Danahay. “Inflation drives that and the city is not immune to inflationary factors.”

The cost of water and sewer have been going up across the country and are expected to continue to rise because of aging infrastructure, more advanced treatments to address water quality and weather events, according to Bluefield Research, a team that provides insights and trends in water markets and industries.

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With the approval of the majority of the Sulphur City Council, water will go up $1.50, from $26.40 to $27.90, a 5.7 percent increase, according to Jennifer Thorn, finance director.

Also on the agenda is an item that will allow the city to participate in a revolving loan fund that could help fund installing water meters – at some point. Meters have been a part of the conversation for about three years and Councilwoman Melinda Hardy has voted down the increases every year because she’d like to see water metered.

“We’re the largest entity that still charges a flat rate,” Danahay said.

A non-metered flat rate is great for the person with a sprinkler system in the front yard and a pool in the back, but he doesn’t know if all residents realize that metering is a more equitable assessment.

The cost of the sewer/waste water treatment is $29.75 now. It will go up almost ten percent to $32.65, if the majority of the Council approves.

“We have spent $6 million on the wastewater plant,” Danahay said. The city could receive some assistance from FEMA for storm-related damage to the wastewater treatment facility after the hurricanes, but it has been a slow process. Wastewater treatment requires engineered noncorrosive parts for upgrades that haven’t been tackled in years.

Sulphur treats Westlake’s wastewater. Thorn said Westlake pays $97,549 a month. That will be increased to $104,134.

“Trash pickup could be increased $1.25, from $21.25 to $22.50 and the Capital fee, currently at $1.35 will go up ten cents. Assessed many years ago, according to Thorn, it is used to offset capital projects.

A look at Lake Charles and Westlake pricing

   Here’s how Sulphur prices compare to Lake Charles and Westlake. Residents within the incorporated areas of the City of Lake Charles do not pay a fee for trash pickup or disposal. Water usage is metered and charges based on actual water usage. Monthly minimum charges in the city limits is based on size metering installation, which can run from ¾” residential and commercial to ten-inch commercial. The charge for the  first 2,000 gallons used goes from $11.40 to $10832.32 based on size metering installation.

The next 6,000 gallons used costs $2.80 more per 1,000 gallons.

Sewer rates are $15.45 for 300-2,000 gallons of water, $3.45 for 2,000 to 19,999 gallons of water per 1,000 gallons and $4.80 for over 20,000 gallons of water per 1,000 gallons.

The city of Lake Charles charges a capital improvement fee that is based on consumption. Monies collected are used to make capital infrastructure improvements to the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Those are calculated as follows: 0-2000 gallons: $1.60; 2000-30000 gallons: $3.20, and each additional 20,000 gallons over 30,000: $3.20.

In Westlake, water is metered and residents pay $33.37 minimum for 2,000 gallons and $4.09 per thousand or part thereof. Seniors pay $22.31 and $4.09. Commercial consumers pay a $42.50 minimum for 8,000 gallons and $5.11 per thousand or part thereof over 8,000 gallons. Industrial pays $65.39 minimum for 10,000 gallons, $6.13 per thousand or part thereof over 10,000 gallons and $2.44 per thousand from $150,000 gallons or up or part thereof.

Residents pay a flat sewer rate of $39 per month. Seniors pay $20.52. Commercial users with metered water pay their monthly water usage (in gallons) divided by 8,000 x $45.16.

Trash/garbage rates are $23.77 for residential and no charge for pickup of second canister but customers must purchase a second can. Seniors pay $23.77 and commercial rates are $23.77. Additional pickup costs $20.50.