Louisville Metro Council considers allowing 20 percent rate increase for MSD customers
Louisville Metro Council is considering a proposal by the Metropolitan Sewer District to increase rates by 20 percent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Council is considering a proposal by the Metropolitan Sewer District to increase rates by 20 percent.
At a meeting Monday of the Metro Council Budget committee, the proposal was tabled after another option was put forward that could be voted on instead.
“This is more of a phased approach,” MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said.
The ordinance put forth before the budget committee outlines a plan in which MSD would be granted the ability to increase rates for customers by up to 10 percent every year until 2021 without approval from Metro Council. Currently. If MSD wants to increase rates by more than 6.9 percent, it must seek the approval of Metro Council.
Parrott said the extra revenue, which amounts to an increase of about 16.3 percent, is desperately needed to fund repairs to Louisville’s aging sewer systems.
“When you talk about flood protection systems or flood pump stations, or if you're talking about a breach in the levy, you're talking about catastrophic failures and catastrophic damage,” Parrott said.
Right now, the total cost of repairs amounts to $4.3 billion.
“If we have a failure in one of those major pump stations, we're looking at the possibility of a catastrophic event,” Parrott said.
MSD proposed a similar measure for a 20 percent increase last year but it was quickly struck down. Since then, MSD has added in the proposal a Wastewater Rate Assistance Program that would help low-income customers.
“It is absolutely outrageous,” said Councilwoman Mary Woolridge. “I say turn this down now.”
Some on Metro Council said they remain adamantly opposed to the plan in spite of the assistance program. Meanwhile, some state legislators are considering getting involved by proposing legislation related to MSD.
“When you're coming around asking for 20 percent rate hike, there needs to be another layer of protection for the consumer,” said state representative for District 29 (R), Kevin Bratcher.
Bratcher said he’s considering proposing that MSD should fall under the purview of the Kentucky Public Service Commission, or PSC. The PSC is a committee charged with overseeing utilities and rates for customers throughout the state.
“This is nothing against the Metro Council,” Bratcher said. “I know they have a tough job, but the PSC is experts at this. They can get into the books at look at how the utility is operated.”
When asked about the possibility, Parrott said he would have to review the proposal to “analyze the validity of (it).”
Metro Council tabled the 20 percent rate hike proposal Monday night in the hopes of gathering further information on the 10 percent increase proposal to determine which option (or neither) might be best.
Metro Council members said on Monday that a decision would likely be made by July 13.
Reporter Travis Ragsdale can be reached at 502-585-0817 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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