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Baker Mayor Darnell Waites

BAKER — The City of Baker is taking steps toward securing a $1.8 million grant to improve its water system in the city, Kevin Gravois of Professional Engineering Consultants told the City Council on Tuesday night.

After submitting an initial application, the city was encouraged to continue the process and Gravois said he is optimistic about Baker’s chances of receiving the money.

If the grant application is successful, the city would use the funds to replace the water well on Mississippi Street and make upgrades to other wells in the city.

In a related matter, Mayor Darnell Waites reminded Baker residents that their sewer usage bills have two charges because sewage from Baker is processed in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Baker charges residents a $14 flat rate per month to cover the cost of moving sewage from Baker to East Baton Rouge for processing.

In addition, East Baton Rouge charges Baker residents $47.94 per month based on an estimated monthly usage of 8,600 gallons of water. Every six months, East Baton Rouge Parish adjusts this estimate for each residence in Baker based on their usage according to their water meters and changes each bill accordingly. If meters are not working or a residence has just begun to receive water service, the parish uses the 8,600 gallon estimate to determine the rate for the customer.

Since many meters in Baker were recently replaced, residents might have seen changes to their bills, Waites said.

East Baton Rouge also raises the rate it charges Baker by 4 percent each year.

Residents can read East Baton Rouge ordinance 7853 for more information, he said.

“Don’t believe or spread misinformation. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves water experts,” Waites said.

He added that even though the rate the parish charges Baker residents might seem high, it’s cheaper than the cost would be if Baker had to maintain its own sewage treatment facility.

He told the council that since the city doesn’t raise its rates every year, it is continually losing money just maintaining the lift stations and other equipment needed to move the sewage out of the city.

Seven of the city’s lift stations recently had to be replaced so that sewage wouldn’t back up in houses and buildings in the city, he said.

In other business, the council:

  • Introduced an ordinance that would amend the budget to move $250,000 from the sewage revenue fund into the general operating fund and add $66,475 to general fund operating expenditures for police uniforms and ammunition as well as other items.
  • Heard from Kelvin Ridgley of the Public Works department regarding the importance of keeping stormwater runoff clean and flowing by refraining from dumping leaves, trash, and chemicals in storm drains and catch basins.
  • Heard about events including First Quarter’s community spelling bee for fifth and eighth grade reading levels to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at SGFMCB Fellowship Hall, 16443 Plank Road; City of Baker Prosecutor’s Office’s second Conference for Men, Boys and the Women Who Love Them, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Baker Municipal Building; and Labor of Love Health Forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Baker Heritage Museum, 1606 Main St. hosted by City of Baker Prematurity Awareness Ambassador Kye Walter Black.