The mayor-president and the Metro Council have hung a $1.4 billion albatross around the neck of the Baton Rouge homeowners.
It will take 30 years to retire the $1.4 billion bond sale to cover the project’s cost. The present sewer fee to cover payout of the bonds is $41 per month per household. By the time the bonds are retired in 2042 the fee is projected to rise to $83 per month.
This figure is based on a $1.2 billion estimate. The construction cost has now risen to $1.4 billion so the fee could rise to $100 dollars per month.
More and more as the fee rises over the 30-year period, it will cast a shadow over home sales in Baton Rouge. In 2003 under Mayor-President Bobby Simpson, the estimate of $612 million, was considered high; however, it was thought the costly sewer storage tunnel could be eliminated. The plans required the rehabilitation work to be done first, and if successful, the expensive tunnel could be eliminated. Shreveport is doing a similar project for less than $300 million.
In his campaign for mayor-president, “Kip” Holden promised to get the work done for less than the $612 million. However, it did not happen because the mayor-president had plans to enlarge the sewer system to take care of future growth and eliminate the central treatment plant in south Baton Rouge. The extra work increased the project cost nearly $1 billion.
Under the first EPA consent decree, the above work was not necessary. In order to make the plan change, the mayor-president was required to obtain a second consent decree. The EPA approved the plans for the extra work, but were only concerned with the part which dealt with manhole overflows. As far as they were concerned no changes had to be made to the treatment plants.
In view of the eight years of time that have elapsed since the mayor-president took over, an update on the project cost and progress is needed. In my letter to the editor of March 26, it was requested a complete report be made to the taxpayers. No response to my request has been received as of this date.
It’s time for the mayor-president to act on my request.
former DPW assistant chief engineer