Town's $800,000 problem
BAKER - City leaders moved forward with discussions about raising sewage and water rates to ease a more than $800,000 budget shortfall.
Tuesday night, Baker council members introduced a measure that would increase the rates between $8 and $10 per household each month.
"We really don't have a choice," Mayor Harold Rideau said.
"Whatever it takes to make the city run proficiently is what we must do," Councilwoman Joyce Burgess said.
At the meeting, there was a heated exchange when Baker residents told the council they don't want the increases.
"We're at a fixed income, but everything else keeps rising. Now, you want to raise the water, raise the sewage. We don't have that money," a woman at the meeting told members.
If the deficit is not fixed, Police Chief Mike Knapps believes cuts will start with his department and other municipal agencies.
"Without these increases, this city is going to be in trouble down the road," Knapps said.
The council will vote on the increase at next month's meeting.
The rate hikes could help fill the gap, but it won't cover the entire hole. The town will still be short $200,000 and will still be searching for money.
"We're going to have to trim the lean off. We've done cut the fat. But we're going to have to trim the lean off," Rideau said.