The New Orleans City Council delayed a vote scheduled for Jan. 10 on Mayor Mitch Landrieu's proposal to raise the franchise fee paid by customers of Entergy New Orleans (on the East Bank) and Entergy Louisiana (on the West Bank). The increase would raise the rate to 7 percent of each monthly bill for East Bank customers and 4 percent for West Bank customers.
The increased fees will raise more than $10 million a year, according to city estimates. The money will be used to replace and repair the city's damaged streetlights. The city ultimately plans to replace all streetlights with LED lights.
At a committee meeting earlier last week, council members expressed skepticism about the plan. District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said she was worried that it doesn't address underlying infrastructure issues.
"I think the problem we have right now is we keep talking about light bulbs out and light bulbs replaced," she said. "That is just patchwork on the system. ... My concern is we have a broke system, and it doesn't make sense to me to pour more money into a broke system."
Council members asked the Landrieu administration to provide additional information on the replacement plan before bringing the increase to a vote. The vote is now scheduled for the Jan. 24 council meeting.
— Charles Maldonado