ZACHARY — The City Council has taken the first steps toward asking voters to approve a $9.3 million bond issue in the Oct. 22 election to fund sewer system upgrades.
The state Department of Environmental Quality, which has offered to lend the city the money at 0.95 percent interest for 22 years, would buy the bonds if voters approve them.
The money would be used for improvements to the city’s sewer system and the bonds would be retired from utility revenue. Zachary’s home-rule charter requires voter approval before the city can bond utility revenue for special projects.
The city must present the proposal to the State Bond Commission for approval at its Aug. 10 meeting to get it on the Oct. 22 primary election ballot.
The council agreed to consider a proposed ordinance to raise utility rates to repay the bonds, as recommended in an engineering and economic feasibility report for the project.
By 2014, sewer rates would increase an average of $7 per month, while municipal gas and water rates would rise $6 and $9 per month, respectively.
“We would have to raise the utility rates anyway,” Mayor David Amrhein said at a work session Monday. “It’s been at least 30 years since sewer rates went up and 11 years for water and gas.”
Other matters considered by the council included:
TRASH BINS: The council approved the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to require that large trash bins must be enclosed to match the adjacent building. The mayor said that the city would make sure its own trash bins conform to the new rules.
“We have to lead by example,” he said.
Councilman Francis Nezianya said the council had feared the requirement would be too expensive for property owners. After reviewing estimates of costs with Planning and Zoning, the council decided to accept the code revision.
REDFLEX: The council met in an executive session regarding the city’s contract with Redflex Traffic Systems. The city has 3 1/2 more years remaining on its contract with the company, which runs Zachary’s radar-based photo traffic enforcement program.
Councilman John Coghlan argued in a council meeting on June 28 that the city should enhance its own traffic system and stop working with Redflex.
BOND ATTORNEY: The council approved the hiring of Jerry Osborne of Foley & Judwell LLP as the city’s bond attorney.
TAX RATES: The council approved a tax rate of 3.17 mills for 2011, the same rate as in 2010.