Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paying for the Pumps

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 6:12 PM

Yesterday was a good day for moving forward on pump stations, but it might not turn out so well for New Orleans taxpayers.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state and local officials signed an agreement Tuesday and gave a green light for constructing permanent pump stations at the three Lake Pontchartrain outfall canals, paying for the maintenance and operation of the stations remains a concern.

Orleans Sewerage and Water Board will be responsible for operation and maintenance costs, estimated at $10 million annually by S&WB director Marcia St. Martin, according to the Corps’ Col. Robert Sinkler.  His comments came during a New Orleans City Council meeting in December, and the council’s response wasn’t encouraging:

“They’re already broke,” Councilwoman Shelley Midura, adding it didn’t seem fair to place the burden on S&WB.

Councilmember At-Large Arnie Fielkow told Sinkler that SW&B does not have an additional $10 million in its budget to accommodate the maintenance and operation costs. Fielkow, who sits on the board for SW&B, said the money would have to be raised through a property tax millage increase.

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