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Budgets, streets and meters: Groves council approves 2019-2020 spending plan

The Groves city council approved the proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year at its meeting Monday evening. The budget includes property tax and utility fee increases that would amount to an extra $1.40 per $100,000 of property value each year and an extra $1 per month on the average water and sewer bill, according to city manager D.E. Sosa.

The council also heard from Public Works director Troy Foxworth, who gave an update on the progress of the city’s street program, and Ron Fletcher, Entergy customer service manager, who explained about the new advanced meters Entergy would be installing in the coming weeks.

Streets program

Foxworth explained that the public works department is wrapping up it streets program, though they are still working on improvements to Allison Avenue.

Ward 3 Councilman Sidney Badon asked if Foxworth had drawn up any plans yet for Monroe Boulevard. Foxworth said the total cost for 2 inches of hot mix asphalt for Monroe from Twin City Highway to Main Avenue would be approximately $191,900, while a chipseal resurfacing with work on the street’s base would come to approximately $96,000.

“If we do the chipseal from Twin City all the way to Main Avenue, and we ran that way for a year, they could possibly get a lot more of those streets into the new edition,” Badon said. “After that we could come in and put 2 inches of asphalt to finish the street and that would give us a 4-inch bed of new street. I’d like to see either on of those suggestions come on up the road program that we’re going to have starting in the spring, and I’d like to see if we can manage to get that on high priority.”

Sosa promised the city would prepare costs and options for councilmembers in a future work session.

“I know we have so much money budgeted for streets, and if we did jump on this Monroe program that’s going to dig in to your street program elsewhere, correct? So that’s why I’d like to see all of the parameters so we could look at it and see where we think we want to go,” Ward 4 Councilman Wade Hollier said.

New meters

Fletcher said the new meters Entergy would be installing allows for more data collection on power outages and efficiency, adding they can be controlled and read remotely.

“We’re really excited about it because it’s providing technology and opportunity that our customers haven’t had in the past,” Fletcher said. “It’s going to be a faster outage identification, in other words instead of calling Entergy, we’ll already know where the outage is and we’ll be able to respond a lot faster, so you won’t have to call us.”

Customers will likewise be able to monitor their own power usage from the meters. Entergy will receive the same information, which will allow customers and Entergy representatives to better communicate.

Residents should have received notice about the new meters a month ago, and Entergy will also send out notices two weeks in advance of when they will be arriving in neighborhoods to install the meters. The installation should take about 15 minutes and require a brief loss of power.

“Our bills will be going down to?” Mayor Brad Bailey asked Fletcher.

“We’re working on that as well. That’s work in progress!” Fletcher said as the other council members laughed.