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Meadowlakes city leaders propose tax, water rate hikes

MEADOWLAKES — A proposed cent-and-a-half property tax increase and a 21  percent hike in water rates could help pay for a new water tank, balance the public works fund and replenish budget reserves, city officials said.

On July 30 during a workshop at City Hall on the proposed $2.2 million fiscal year budget, City Council members discussed proposed hikes to monthly water bills and ad valorem taxes, with at least one city leader predicting there will be complaints.

However, the council still has to vote on approving the increases.

“For the average water customer and (proposed) taxes, you’re looking at a little over $100 per year (combined)” if the figures are approved, said City Manager Johnnie Thompson.

The current tax rate is 30.45 cents per $100 valuation. The proposed tax rate would increase to 31.59 cents, or about a cent and a half. That translates into about $25 more per year on an average house valued at $225,000, Thompson said.

One council member said the increase is a sound idea.

“Our taxes are low,” said Councilwoman Mary Ann Raesner said. “This is something we should do. We don’t want to do something that will put us off budget.”

Also, officials proposed raising the base water rate by $4.40 per bill, and increasing the so-called “tier rates” (use per 1,000 gallons) by 20 cents each.

Council members agreed on the proposed increases to the preliminary budget, citing reasons that included balancing the Public Works fund, keeping reserves intact and generating an estimated $50,000 towards construction of a new ground-level water tank.

The tank is expected to cost $350,000, but $300,000 of that is being paid by a loan from the Meadowlakes Property Owners Association.

According to Thompson, total average billing per customer would increase from $30.95 to $37.55 per month.

Some residents are likely to express dissatisfaction over raising rates, Councilman Paul Sarcione said.

“I’m on a fixed income too,” he said. “But we need to do more than just enough (as a city) to get by.”

The last water rate increase was $1 per month in 2006, Thompson said. Prior to the last increase, the council raised the water rate by $1 per month in 2001.

The city is conducting another workshop on the proposed budget at 1 p.m. on July 31 at City Hall, 177 Broadmoor.

connie@thepicayune.com

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