Apr 1, 2014 22:28 Utility rates may rise in Donaldsonville to offset deficit Utility rates may rise in Donaldsonville to offset deficit Aaron E. Looney| Special to The Advocate April 01, 2014 Comments DONALDSONVILLE — Utility rates may rise in the wake of a budget shortfall in the city’s sewer department. City Finance Director Sandra Williams said the city’s sewer department shows a deficit of $337,000 for the fiscal year through February, caused mostly by transfers from the department to the city’s general fund to pay for other projects. But even sewer projects were an expense, she said, citing the sewer work on Gardenia Street and rebuilding manholes on Evangeline Drive and on Loop 941. “We’ve done a review of the revenues and we know we need to adjust the utility rates,” Williams said. “Expenditures are falling in line, but each year we’re constantly making transfers out to the general fund.” Transfers from the sewer budget to the general fund have come on an as-needed basis, Williams said. However, she said she has looked into ways to stop those transfers. City Attorney Chuck Long likened the transfers to admitting the amount in its general fund and what it collects in taxes and fees is not enough to cover expenses. Long reminded the council that the city is obligated under its bonds to “review and revise utility rates as often and as painfully as necessary” to protect the bond holders. “No matter what the shortfall is, a rate adjustment should be coming soon,” Long said. Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said the city’s utility services operate like a for-profit business. “I’m not worried about depreciation,” he said. “How much cash do we have at the end of the year in reserve and how much do we have to operate? We don’t have a contingency fund.” No action was taken on the matter during the meeting, but Williams said the issue will be discussed at a future meeting.