- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The Jackson County Sewer Authority is likely to vote Monday to increase sewer rates by $2 million a year countywide to finance improvements.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1MwDyGm) changes will mean higher sewer bills for residents of cities and sewer districts, although the amount may vary by city. The district bills local governments.

Ocean Springs ratepayers are likely to pay 8 percent more this year and 8 percent more next year, even as the city absorbs some of the costs. Rates will go up more in Pascgaoula, on a percentage basis, but Tommy Fairfield, the authority’s director, notes that only comes to about $1.50 a month for the average residence.

The increase could finance a $30 million bond issue for system improvements. But authority leaders say that they intend to charge more whether they issued bonds or not.

Cities and the West Jackson County Utility District sent a letter this month to the authority asking it to put off a vote on the bond issue for 90 days.



“If the JCUA Board of Directors goes forward with the bond proposal at its September 28 meeting, our citizens and customers will suffer immediate and irreparable damage,” attorneys for the cities and district wrote.

Fairfield said the authority plans to take “the next couple of months” to consider all the details of the bond issue anyway.

He also pointed out a bond issue the authority passed in 1982 was paid off in 2012, so the authority was able to use that extra $2 million per year to “avoid a rate increase when costs were escalating.”

Authority attorney Jimmy Heidelberg said the authority needs to consider large capital investments.

“We have 30- to 40-year-old equipment,” Authority attorney Jimmy Heidelberg said. “Even when you change the oil and take good care of it, like a car, it eventually wears out.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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