- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The City of Vicksburg is raising water and sewer service fees.

The Vicksburg Post reports (https://bit.ly/1JjVy42) customers who use less than 2,000 gallons of water per month would see no increase. Those using 10,000 gallons or less would see a 4.9 percent increase in water and a 10 percent increase in sewer rates. Any residential customer using more than 20,000 gallons per month will see a 30 percent increase in their water and a 10 percent increase in sewer rates.

“Over 75 percent of residential customers use 10,000 gallons or less, so this won’t affect many of the residential customers in the first place,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “This increase does not affect senior citizens or disabled persons who are on a fixed income.”

Commercial customers using less than 4,000 gallons per month will see no increase. Any commercial customer using more than 12,000 gallons of water per month will see a 30 percent increase in water rates and a 10 percent increase in sewer rates.

“Let me make this emphatically clear, this is not a tax increase,” Flaggs said. “This is a fee for service increase and it is absolutely necessary if we are going to be able to continue to provide the best quality water service to the taxpayers of Vicksburg.”

The fee increase will affect the two rural water districts - Culkin and Yokena-Jeff Davis - that purchase water from the city. Those districts will see the 30 percent increase and will most likely pass that increase along to their customers.

In addition to the rate increase, all water and sewer customers will see an $8 EPA fee per month.

The city is under a consent decree with the EPA for allowing raw sewage to be discharged into the Mississippi River and other streams. The city is required under the decree to assess, upgrade and replace its 107-year-old sewer system within 10 years.

“Until we can satisfy the EPA consent decree, this will provide us a measure of protection from increasing sewer rates as we perform work to satisfy the decree,” Flaggs said. “The City of Vicksburg cannot continue to provide service based upon the general fund revenue coming in.

“A lot of infrastructure in the city was based upon gaming providing those funds. It’s down and has been on the decline for the past seven years and we’re down being dependent on it 16 percent.”

“That’s down from 25 percent from seven years ago,” city accountant Doug Whittington added.

The city also is considering increasing tapping fees, which are charged to connect residential and commercial lines to city water, gas and sewer lines.

Currently the city charges $161.73 to install a ¾ inch water line from the city’s service to a water meter on the property. The committee recommended the fee be increased to $750, bringing the fee in line with what Culkin charges.

The city will address the increase at its next public board meeting April 28.

The fee increases were recommended by a committee of Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman, City Attorney Nancy Thomas, City Clerk Walter Osborne, water and gas manager Tammy Christmas and Whittington after reviewing a report by Jackson engineers Allen and Hoshall.

According to the report, Vicksburg’s utility rates were insufficient to meet the needs of its utility systems and should be increased to adequately fund the present and future needs of the systems.

Vicksburg currently has 10,000 water customers and 6,800 natural gas users.


Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com



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