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MSD's Proposed Sewer Rate Hike Is Dead

The Louisville Metro Council has effectively denied a pair of measures related to Metropolitan Sewer District officials' request to increase user rates.

Council members on Thursday opted not to vote on the ordinances that would have granted sewer district officials the authority to raise rates beyond the 6.9 threshold currently in place and, furthermore, institute a 20 percent hike for sewer district residents this year.

Sewer district officials have for months been pushing council members to approve a proposal to increase sewer rates by 20 percent to help fund what they consider to be critical infrastructure repairs. Such a hike would have increased customer's monthly bills by about $11, according to sewer district officials.

District officials say the agency faces nearly $4.3 billion in repair costs, according to a presentation made to the council earlier this year.

Council members have hesitated on backing any rate hikes, and criticized sewer district officials' efforts to raise awareness on just why such a increase is necessary.

A separate measure that also failed to get a vote would have allowed sewer district officials to make annual rate hikes beyond the current ceiling of 6.9 percent. Presently, any proposed rate hike greater than 6.9 percent requires Metro Council approval.

Under that proposed measure, sewer officials could make annual increases up to 10 percent until 2021 — at which time the current ceiling would have been reinstated.

With the lack of a vote, the sewer district is limited to raising rates by no more than 6.9 percent in the coming years. Such a hike will generate about $830 million and raise rates by about $4 a year for the next five years, according to sewer district officials.

Steve Tedder, a spokesman for the district, declined to comment on the lack of a vote from the council. He said the sewer district will hold a special meeting Friday.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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