DENHAM SPRINGS - The City Council increased its natural gas price to municipal customers by 20 cents per 100 cubic feet of gas and added a yearly cost-of-living increase despite public opposition.

Also during its meeting Tuesday night, the council approved building a privacy fence between Kidz Korner Playland and homes on River Road and accepted a $74,000 grant to build walking trails in Willow Woods Park.

The 20-cent gas increase will cost average customers $7.77 per month, City Treasurer Clarence Speed said.

The administration had proposed a 35-cent increase, but the council’s Finance Committee reduced the proposal to 20 cents at its last meeting.

Lee Pitre, one of the residents opposed to the increase, told council members that the additional money isn’t needed by the city’s Gas Department, but will subsidize the city’s other utilities, each of which should stand on its own.

She suggested that instead of approving a gas hike that the council should consider saving money by having garbage picked up only once a week rather than twice.

Another opponent, Doug Easterbrook, said the gas hike is too large.

He suggested in vain that the yearly cost-of-living increase should be removed from the proposal.

The council approved the rate hike by a 4-1 vote, with Lori Lamm-Williams voting against it.

The increase applies to the amount of money the city charges to transmit gas and is separate from the cost of gas, which the city passes on to customers.

The city’s natural gas operation extends beyond the city limits into other parts of Livingston Parish and into eastern East Baton Rouge Parish.

Mayor Jimmy Durbin has pushed for an increase in the amount the city charges for providing gas, saying that the city’s utility fund is running at a large deficit.

Other actions taken by the council included:

PRIVACY FENCE: The council agreed to build a fence between a parking lot at Kidz Korner Playland and River Road, after hearing complaints from area residents about loss of privacy.

After donations from neighbors, the city will have to pay only about $900 for the $2,600 fence and gate.