The cost of deposits to connect to town utilities increased Monday night for the first time in several decades.

The Town Council raised water and gas deposits during its regular monthly meeting. The increases apply only to new customers. Current customers, with deposits already being held by the town, are not affected.

Mayor Clarence  Beebe said the deposit change is necessary to reflect more-realistic costs of doing business. The water deposit increases from $20 to $40 and the gas deposit rises from $50 to $70.

Town Clerk Cara McDaniel reiterated that the town’s 800 or so current system customers are not involved in the fee change.

A random check by the Leader of deposit rates at various points in the state shows a range of $35 to $85 for water deposits and upwards of $125 for gas service.

Also at Monday night’s session, the council received an inordinate number of bids on items the town had for sale. In each instance, council members voted to accept the highest offer.

Tommy Kay of Leesville bid $24,051 on a 2014 F150 Ford pickup, a price almost five times higher than the low bid for the same vehicle. Six bids were received.

Glenn Martin of Natchitoches bought a 2012 Chevy work truck for $2,001, the highest of three offers.  

The F150 is the first of the town’s dual-fuel vehicles to be sold on the surplus market. The town earlier this year opened its own CNG station, a long-term investment in what officials will be the eventual swing toward more dual-fuel vehicles in public and private fleets.

Mayor Beebe, whose personal vehicle is dual fuel, and other town officials remain optimistic about the future course of the CNG project. The town is positioned, Beebe noted Monday night, as more and more enterprises turn to alternate fuel options.

In other action, the council approved a $2.50 hourly pay increase for Operations Assistant Thomas Wilmore, whose one year in the post has been met with accolades.

Beebe told council members the North Loop overlay project is essentially waiting for a break from the rainy spell.

The council moved the date of its September meeting to Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m., due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, the 4th. It normally meets on the first Monday of the month..