Residents and businesses who fail to pay their sanitation fees will have their water service shut off under a law passed Thursday by the City Council. The law was proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a way to boost collections and make up lost revenues from uncollected fees. Unpaid trash bills cost the city $8.5 million in 2011.
Sanitation fees are $24 per month for residential properties and $48 per month for large commercial properties. In New Orleans, which has a poverty rate of almost 30 percent, that may be a hardship for some. The city offers a reduced fee for low income customers who are elderly or disabled, but the law does not offer any assistance for low income customers who do not meet those criteria.
Thursday’s vote on the proposal was the first time City Council opened the law for public debate, angering some residents who spoke out against it at the meeting.