City employees among those delinquent on sewer fees
ST. GABRIEL - City employees in St. Gabriel are among nearly 25 percent of residents who are not paying their sewer fees.
Today, WBRZ learned 13 current and former employees are on a delinquent list of those who haven't paid up.
"They are on a payment plan, and they will pay their sewer bills," Mayor Lionel Johnson said.
Currently, the city is trying to recoup nearly $245,000 in unpaid sewer fees. The problem is nothing new. The city collects the bills for the sewer fee, but the parish operates the water system. When people don't pay, the city has no mechanism to make people pay.
"We're still working with the parish where we can have water associated with their sewer and lack of payment on sewer could turn off their water until it's paid," Johnson said.
Around town, people are troubled that the lack of money could cause big problems for people who actually do pay their bills.
"What do you do when you buy and car and don't pay the note on it," Resident Carl Roubique asked. "They come and get your car. Cut their water off. I pay for mine, and I'm on an income where I don't get a lot of money."
Right now the city has nearly 1,000 active sewer accounts and at least 250 are delinquent. That's a positive move compared to one year ago, when there were 874 active accounts and 310 delinquent.
Johnson hopes to implement changes and possibly start cutting off residents water in the next two months. This issue was highlighted in an audit that said the city lacks adequate controls to collect the unpaid money.
"Be fair with everybody," Roubique said. "You owe them money, pay the money. That's all there is to it."