Baker council votes down water rate increase

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - The Baker city council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to reject an ordinance that would increase the city's water rate by more than 60 percent. Under the ordinance proposed by Mayor Harold Rideau, the rate would jump and estimated $7 per household to about $16 per month.

"If we don't do this increase, we are taking a very serious step backwards," said Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps.

"I believe it's unethical to put money in a budget and allocate it to one class knowing fully you're going to spend it somewhere else down the line," said Baker resident Betty Johnson.

Council member and former Mayor Pete Heine warned his colleagues a vote against the measure would eventually come back to bite the city and added the rate hike is a needed mechanism to operate the water system like a business.

"We're just delaying the inevitable. it's going to happen we can put it off again brother john and walk it down the road a little ways but it's not going to go away and we've got to run this city," said Heine.

Other council members like Joyce Burgess were not convinced. Burgess countered that an increase of water rates to help fund public services like fire and police is not fair to residents.

"I know we can't just keep kicking this can down the road I do know that but at this time I just don't believe our taxpayers deserve this," said Burgess.

After the vote Harold Rideau promised the issue would come up again in the future. 

"Eventually you're going to have to do it and it's not going to be 15 dollars so have your pleasure ok," said Rideau.

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