Metropolitan Sewer District approves 6.9 percent rate increase - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metropolitan Sewer District approves 6.9 percent rate increase

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Rates are going up for customers of the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

The MSD board approved a 6.9 percent rate increase Friday which will begin Aug. 1. The district said the average monthly residential wastewater bill for 5,000 gallons per month will go up $3.03, from $43.84 to $46.87. Monthly stormwater drainage fees will go up by 60 cents, from $8.66 to $9.26.

MSD had requested a 20 percent rate increase in June, which would have needed approval from Louisville Metro Council.  However, council did not take up the measure Thursday night. So MSD's board approved the maximum increase it could implement without council approval.

MSD told council in June that it needs $4.3 billion to repair Louisville's aging sewer systems. The district has set forth a 20-year Critical Repair Reinvestment Plan (CRRP), which it said is necessary to protect public health and the safety of homes and businesses and to comply with a federal consent decree.

"We've provided information to the mayor and Metro Council, and they continue to basically stick their head in the sand and ignore the problem," said MSD board member John Phelps.

Metro Council members said there was a lack of consensus on a plan that would allow a higher rate increase but also protect seniors and the poor.

“We have to be careful, because the burden on the rate-payers is significant,” said Councilwoman Angela Leet (R-Dist. 7).

Council members also blame a lack of leadership from Mayor Greg Fischer.

"I absolutely think that we needed our mayor to be with us," said Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith (D-Dist. 4).

"Certainly, he should come out with a position and state whether he's for or against something," Leet said.

 Fischer was out of town, but in a statement, spokesman Chris Poynter said only, "The votes aren't there yet. We have more work to do."

MSD said repairs are overdue for Louisville's aging system of pipes, pumps, treatment plants and flood gates. It said serious failures are occurring more often, especially during heavy rainfall and storms. 

"If some of those systems fail, especially if the river's up, we've got a major problem," Phelps said.

Council members said they will try again next year to agree on a proposal that would allow MSD to phase in higher rate increases.

Qualified senior citizens can take advantage of a 30 percent discount from MSD on the surcharge and wastewater increases. Those who are 65 and older, have a gross annual household income of $35,000 or less and who are customers of both MSD and the Louisville Water Company can request an application for the discount on the MSD website. Seniors may also call customer relations at 502-587-0603.

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