An ordinance establishing new water rates was introduced at a special Ridgecrest aldermen meeting Tuesday.
The introduction was unanimously passed with Alderwoman Mitzi Boyler making the motion via phone and Darlene Humphries seconding also from a phone. The duo chose to participate in the meeting by phone because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
Ridgecrest Mayor Veller Ray Carroll, Alderwoman Deborah Barrett, Clerk Jamie Bradford and a host of guests were in person for the meeting.
A water rate of $64 for the first 1,500 gallons used and $5.65 per 1,000 gallons consumed after the minimum usage will be introduced at a public hearing to be held in August.
On the commercial side, a water rate of $45 for the first 1,500 gallons used and $5.65 per 1,000 gallons consumed after the minimum usage also will be introduced at the August public hearing.
“I feel like this option was the best for the elderly residents and those who did not use as much water,” Carroll said.
Ridgecrest was given three options from Louisiana Rural Water Association who recently performed a water rate study on the village.
One option was for $64 for the first 1,000 gallons used and $4.85 per 1,000 gallons consumed after the minimum usage. The $64 includes sewer, garbage, fire department fee and a safe drinking water charge.
The additional option was for $64 for the first 2,000 gallons used and $6.80 per 1,000 gallons consumed after the minimum usage. Like the other options, the base of $64 includes sewer, garbage, fire department fee and a safe drinking water charge.
In June, Ridgecrest officials signed a three-year contract to purchase water from Ferriday at the price of $4.70 per 1,000 gallons and a $10,000 deposit.
The deposit will be paid over three years at a rate of $140 per month during the first three years and $140 per month during the second three-year span. Ridgecrest will also have the option to renew the contract after the first time period has expired for another three years.
In related action, aldermen unanimously passed a resolution to adopt plans, policies and appointments to comply with Louisiana Community Development Block Grant regulations.
Ridgecrest was recently approved for a LCDB grant worth nearly $1 million. The funds will be used to tie into Ferriday’s water system alleviating Ridgecrest’s aging water plant which has been producing brown-tinted water.
Meanwhile, a motion giving each alderperson “their regular salary plus $25 for each additional meeting held and attended within the month” died for a
lack of a second.
Boyler made the motion while Humphries initially abstained. After it was announced the motion died, Humphries said she had misunderstood the motion even though Bradford explained the agenda item.
Additionally, Carroll vetoed an ordinance amendment designed at punishing those with more than more than five dogs per household.
According to the amendment, all violators of the ordinance would be punished by a fine of “not less than $10 or more than $200, and/or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or both.”
The initial ordinance amendment was done illegally due to the fact it was introduced and approved in the same meeting and not advertised in Ridgecrest’s official journal, the Concordia Sentinel.
“Aldermen didn’t follow the correct protocol,” Carroll said.
Boyler made the motion, seconded by Humphries. Barrett voted against the measure.
After the veto, Carroll reiterated he was against the measure and recommended a grandfather clause added to the amendment allowing those already with five dogs to be excused.
Through the phone Boyler asked, “If the mayor can veto this, why should the board come together.”
In other business, Bradford announced a recently introduced amendment requiring all business applications to be alderman approved was “null and void” because Humphries was a Ridgecrest business owner.
When introduced, the amendment was met with adamant disapproval and Carroll promised to veto it if pushed through.
Currently, Carroll is solely pegged with new business’s blessing or ban.
In June’s regular meeting, the introduction was passed with a motion by Boyler and a second by Humphries. Barrett voted against the introduction.
“I think we should get the water straightened out before we deal with the business license,” Barrett said.