The Ville Platte City Council met Tuesday evening. Todd Abshire with the Louisiana Rural Water Association addressed the council with information about water utility rates. He has been conducting a rate study for Ville Platte. He stressed the importance of sustainability, saying that the water system needs to make 10% above revenue be sustainable. He also urged maintaining water safety and reminded the council and the citizens that it is illegal to give anyone a break on their water bill. It is against the state constitution to forgive a water bill or to not disconnect customers. It is also a felony for anyone to tamper with utility meters. He suggested replacing the old meters with smart meters. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the water rates will go up, but they are not sure just yet how much they will go up. Several citizens voiced their concerns, with one citizen drawing the ire of the council by suggesting that they are overpaid. He said the council could cut their salaries instead of making cuts to the police department. He added, "The council needs to start thinking about the people instead of thinking about themselves." Councilman Mike Perron said, "Do you think we, in our hearts, want to do that to the people? [...] We are mandated to change the rates." Councilman Bryant Riggs took issue with the citizen's claim that the council is paid too much, and added that the police department had no need for four detectives when two detectives could be doing patrol. At one point, Riggs left the speakers stand to retrieve paperwork to show the citizen a breakdown of his salary. Another citizen stood up and raised his voice to the council shouting, "We need to look at our priorities in Ville Platte. [...] Services that need to be rendered for the common good that aren't being rendered like it should be because there's no more accountability! There is lack of maintenance in this town. Nobody wants to work! Now, anybody wants to say something about that?!" At one point, Councilwoman Faye Lemoine said, "We could all give our salaries back to the city and it still wouldn't be the 10% we need to sustain our water." The water rate discussion lasted nearly an hour. Mayor Vidrine said they asked Abshire there to explain why an increase in rates is needed. She said when the rate study is complete, an ordinance will be introduced and the public will have a chance to voice their concerns at that time.
In other business, Todd Morein addressed the council to ask if they had agreed on a price to charge him to put equipment on the three water towers in order to provide a new internet service. The council said the price would be $300 per equipment per tower for a total cost of $900 per month. Morein said the price should be much lower because it's a service provided to the public. Councilman Eric LaFleur said they can use a formula to lower that cost according to volume of business.
In other action:
• Mayor Vidrine announced the city is working with the police jury to continue work on blighted properties.
• The council approved a liquor permit for the Louisiana Smoked Meat Festival which will be held May 17th and 18th this year.
• They also approved a liquor permit for the Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce banquet, which will be held either next month of September.
City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, said the fire department should get credit for lowering their rating from a 3 to a 2 which is excellent. Because of this, homeowner and business owner insurance premiums will be lower.