ZACHARY — The City Council on Tuesday proposed lowering reconnecting fees for customers who fail to pay their water and gas bills.
The council agreed on a 3-2 vote to consider an ordinance that would reduce the charge from $50 to $25, but add a $50 overtime and processing fee for anyone requesting to be reconnected after 4 p.m.
Councilmen Dan Wallis, Tommy Womack and Brandon Noel voted in favor of the new fee structure. John Coghlan and Francis Nezianya opposed the measure.
In a related matter, following a public hearing, the council agreed to set administrative processing fees for credit card transactions at between 2.5 and 5 percent.
The council has already approved allowing residents to use credit or debit cards to pay utility bills, but has not yet contracted with a credit card company.
Mayor David Amrhein explained that the exact percentage will depend on negotiations with the company, which he indicated might be Capital One.
The mayor said that he hopes residents will be able to pay their utility bills with credit cards by Oct. 15.
Other agenda items taken up by the council included:
PLAN REVIEW FEE: The council voted unanimously to take up a proposed ordinance that would change the fee for reviewing construction plans on new commercial buildings. The city charges a flat rate of $150 for inspecting the plans of any commercial structure.
“I believe this punishes small businesses. Buildings like a YMCA take a long time and the Fire Department has to look at them too. A dress shop in a strip mall can take me 10 or 15 minutes,” city inspection officer Scott Masterson said.
Baton Rouge charges commercial developers 40 cents per square foot with a minimum fee of $70, Masterson said. He proposed that Zachary consider a rate of 35 cents per square foot with a $75 minimum fee.
PLANTATION HOUSE: The council again postponed acting on a resolution to terminate the donation of the Annison Plantation House to the city.
The BREC Foundation had previously showed interest in the antebellum home, but has decided not to take on the project after discovering that the structure needs massive repairs, the mayor said. The home was given to the city in 2002 by owner Ethel Brabham Annison.
The city will look into returning it to the Annison family, the mayor said.