Walter Pierce

Tide turning for LUS?

by Walter Pierce

As the INDsider reported earlier, LUS Thursday announced that its proposed 7 percent rate increase, which was shot down by council members in December, will go back before the City-Parish Council as an introductory ordinance Jan. 19. Now, however, based on speaking with sources and from comments Councilman Sam Dore made to local media, it appears the rate increase has a better chance of passage.

Dore, elected Monday to serve as the 2010 chairman of the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority (comprising the five council members whose districts are 60 percent majority city of Lafayette and which is the governing authority for Lafayette Utilities System), tells KATC he will support the rate increase as a member of the LPUA in order to get the matter to the full vote of the council; Lafayette’s city-parish charter requires votes on utility matters be held by both the five-member LPUA and the full nine-member council. Dore made the remarks when interviewed by KATC’s Megan Schiering following a tour of LUS facilities Thursday afternoon.

In December, Dore was part of the three-member LPUA majority, along with Brandon Shelvin and Kenneth Boudreaux, to vote against the LUS rate increase. The LPUA’s vote against the increase made a vote by the full council unnecessary, and it remains unknown how council members William Theriot, Jared Bellard and Jay Castille — non-LPUA council members — intend to vote on the rate increase. But a source tells the INDsider that Purvis Morrison, the fourth non-LPUA member who last fall went on record saying he wouldn’t support the increase, now says he will vote for it if the LPUA approves it.

According to Schiering, Dore did not commit to voting for the rate increase when the full council votes on the matter. LPUA members Don Bertrand and Keith Patin voted for the rate increase last December, and with Dore now on board, the rate increase is likely to pass the LPUA and go to the full council. Ironically, Boudreaux and Shelvin, who voted with Dore last year to kill the increase, nominated Dore as LPUA chairman Tuesday night. Dore could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.

LUS Director Terry Huval says if the rate increase passes both the LPUA and the full council, the earliest it could come up for a vote for final adoption would be Feb. 2. “We’re hopeful that the public and the council, as they get more information, we’ll get more support [for the rate hike],” Huval tells the INDsider.