DONALDSONVILLE — In a move to mainly offset financial losses, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to increase rates on its natural gas service by $2.09 per thousand cubic feet, or MCF, of natural gas used.
The city aims to raise an additional $250,000 annually with the increase, Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said. Of that, about $130,000 would be left over after servicing departmental debt.
“That profit is something our gas department has not seen in quite some time,” Aucoin told the council. “Now, we can hopefully have money set aside to address issues such as leaks.”
The city’s aging cast iron natural gas pipelines have experienced numerous leaks in recent years, Aucoin said, leading to financial loss for the city-run operation.
“In our 2014-15 amended budget, we’re expecting a $13,260 loss in the gas department,” Aucoin said.
Councilman Emile Spano cited recent instances of gas leaks in neighborhoods, stressing the need to address the problem quickly.
“The problem is that a leak can travel so far under the ground that you just don’t know exactly where it’s starting,” he said.
The city has begun work to replace the cast iron piping with longer-lasting plastic piping, but councilmembers said the cost to replace remaining lines throughout the city could be as high as $6 million.
Aucoin said the expected $130,000 raised will help to fill the gap created by gas loss, but that more is needed to update the system.
“One major issue can eat up that money very quickly,” he said. “To upgrade, we need to find additional funding.”
In other news, the council approved use of the Lemann Center for the Miss Donaldsonville Teen Pageant, scheduled Aug. 1.
The pageant is sponsored by the River Road African-American Museum and organized by the Pretty with a Purpose group.
The pageant is open to girls of all ethnicities between the ages of 13-18 who live in the 70346 ZIP code.