The ordinance lowers utility-disconnect fees on delinquent accounts from $60 to $30. Reconnection fee remains $25. The deadline to pay would be extended from the close of business one day to the start of business the next day, giving delinquents overnight to pay their late bills.
Utility workers are already working until midnight on overtime to handle cut-offs, then cut-ons after the bills are paid. Customers must be present so workers can enter homes to relight gas pilots. Without more workers, the proposed changes would mean customers would be without utilities overnight, Julie McCulloch, director of public works, said.
The same customers, about 900, are delinquent every month and the council should find a way to reward those who pay on time, Councilman Pete Heine said.
In other business:
ECONOMIC PLAN: Council members received a rough draft of the five-year strategic plan for the economic development of Baker.
Chapters include education and workforce development, infrastructure, economic development, leadership development, marketing, communications and quality of life.
The public is invited to a town meeting on education at 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 17, in the city hall auditorium with Skip Smart, director of community development, Louisiana Economic Development, moderating.
The panelists are Joyce Burges, Baker council woman; Eric Lewis, state director, Black Alliance for Educational Options; Ulysses Joseph, superintendent, Baker School System; and John White, La. superintendent of education.
RIDES FOR TOYS: The Baker Fire and Police Departments will trade a ride in a fire truck or DARE car in exchange for a new unwrapped toy, from 5-9 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12, 13 and 14, in the Walmart parking lot, Groom and Plank roads. Toys will be distributed by the Baker Rotary Club, Ginger Vann, president.
RECOGNITIONS: Mayor Harold Rideau recognized Capt. Todd Hotard and Sgt. David Silva, La. Army National Guard, 926th Engineer Company. Hotard is commander in charge of the Baker unit. Both are eager to be called upon to become involved in the community.
KWANZAA: A proclamation was read declaring Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2013, as celebration of Kwanzaa week in Baker.
HERITAGE MUSEUM: A jazz concert of holiday music in Baker City Park starts at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28. Professional and amateur photographers are invited to take family pictures throughout December in the museum’s “A Winter Wonderland.”
NEXT MEETING: Because of the Christmas holidays, the council will next meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18.