ASCENSION PARISH (WAFB) - Those living in Ascension Parish will vote on a new sewer agreement on Saturday, April 24.
The parish is proposing to sell the parish’s sewer assets and customers to National Water Infrastructure. The goal is to build a modern system serving the unincorporated areas of the east bank of Ascension Parish.
Parish officials said this would create more money for things like roads, drainage and recreation. Critics are worried about how much this could impact their monthly sewer rates.
“This is for the first time ever; this is a real opportunity that we have,” said Ascension Parish Councilman Chase Melancon. “Dozens of times what they’ve done with the private public partnerships we’ve put out RFQ’s, we’ve done everything that we can.”
Melancon said the ballot on Saturday is a mixture of two things. The first is a proposal for the Ascension Parish to sell all of their east bank utility assets to NWI.
The second part of the proposal is a 20-year franchise agreement that would allow NWI to use the Ascension Parish servitude in the right of way to build the consolidated sewer system. Instead of having residents spend more money purchasing small pieces of property along the parish highway, they would let them use theirs.
“The long-term impact is huge in two steps,” said Melancon. “The most important is environmental, so the package plants between the NWI and that Ascension Parish owns and the first phase of the system they build is going to take out a very very low estimate of three million gallons per day.”
He said that NWI would come in and spend an estimated $200,000,000 to build the system. It would be a tax-free, no fee system, so nobody in the parish will pay a tax for the system. They get reimbursed by their fees, much like you would pay for your electrical bill, gas, or water.
They’ll be monitored by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to ensure citizens aren’t getting price gouged. Right now NWI in Ascension parish taxpayers are paying between $42 to 44 a month on their sewer bill.
Melancon said as the system is built, and NWI spends more money, they would go to the Louisiana Public Service Commission and ask for a rate increase. Right now, they’re unsure how much of a rate increase that will be.
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