MSD board approves lower rate increase than it originally wanted - WDRB 41 Louisville News

MSD board approves lower rate increase than it originally wanted

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Your sewer bill is about to go up again, but not as much as the Metropolitan Sewer District wanted.

The MSD board approved a 6.9 percent rate increase, the highest it can go without approval from Metro Council.

The board originally approved a 20 percent rate hike in May, but, as MSD Director Tony Parrott put it, "We did not get legislative support from Metro Council."

Metro Council shot down the increase saying it was too much at one time, but MSD says it needs the cash to make repairs on the city's aging infrastructure.

"We're not going to build that additional improvement to the sewer system. We're not going build the additional improvements to the flood protection system, because we don't have the cash," MSD Chief Financial Officer Chad Collier told the board.

The smaller rate increase means MSD has some $30 million less than it wanted to spend on maintenance next year.

Some board members are warning of disaster.

"My fear is we're going to go down this path of just 6.9 percent rate increases, and we're going to end up with a catastrophe that's going to be far worse than a rate increase," said board member John Phelps.

MSD is in the middle of an $850 million, 20-year federal consent decree to reduce sewage overflow into the river. Projects connected to that mandate will continue, but they tie up two-thirds of MSD's capital budget, meaning less money to make major repairs to existing infrastructure.

MSD says it will likely propose a 20 percent rate hike again next year, but only after it conducts a major effort to convince the community, including Metro Council, that it needs the money, and what it plans to do with it.

The new rate goes into effect in August. The average bill will increase by $3.39 a month.

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