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Another MSD Rate Hike? Some Residents Say It's Necessary

A 102-inch sewer pipe, installed in 1948, collapsed Aug. 30, causing sections of roadway at the intersection of Main and Hancock streets to cave in.
A 102-inch sewer pipe, installed in 1948, collapsed Aug. 30, causing sections of roadway at the intersection of Main and Hancock streets to cave in.

Metropolitan Sewer District rates could rise more than usual this year, if an ordinance facing Metro Council passes. Some residents are coming around to the idea.

The proposal asks for the council to allow MSD to raise rates 10 percent annually over the next four years. That’s higher than the 7 percent annual increase the utility is allowed under current law. Council could consider the measure this month.

MSD executive director Tony Parrott told WFPL in December that his agency is asking for more authority, not for council to directly approve a rate increase.

But MSD’s capital needs are great, as infrastructure crumbles across the city, causing service interruptions and inconveniencing residents. MSD needs some $4.3 billion dollars for a 20-year plan aimed at curbing neighborhood flooding and preventing sewer collapses, officials have said.

“I think that as long as we can do more education on the value of the projects that we’re doing and how they’re beneficial to the city, the community and also the next generation, I think folks are really starting to get on board,” Parrott said.

The hike would add about $5 a month to the average ratepayer’s bill, Mayor Greg Fischer said in December.

Jeff McKeller, who lives in the eastern neighborhood of Hikes Point, said he’s become more comfortable with the idea of rising rates after seeing high profile sewer collapses and water main breaks around Louisville.

Given the cost to ratepayers, McKeller was initially against the proposed rate hike. But now he acknowledges the funding is necessary.

“For the sake of all Louisvillians, it would have to pass,” he said of the rate hike. “It’s going to hurt like heck but we have to do something.”

Highlands resident Sharon Cashon said Louisville needs to act before disaster strikes. She has lived in her home for 40 years, but said she has noticed more problems than in the past over the past five years.

Some of Louisville’s sewer pipes are many decades old, while a water main that broke last month in Shelby Park was more than 100 years old. Cashon said such infrastructure elements need to be replaced, one-by-one, across the city.

“I’m a homeowner. If we have something that is starting to get really old in our house, we fix it before there’s a problem and I think that’s what the city should do,” she said.

Cashon said a proactive approach to infrastructure maintenance could prevent future catastrophes and home damage.

WFPL News is partnering with Al Dia en America to provide Spanish-language versions of stories. To read this story in Spanish,click here.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.