- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - Pascagoula residents will see a spike in their water utility fees beginning next month.

WLOX-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1OAPyJx ) city leaders decided Tuesday to raise the demand fee for its sewer services, which include sewage and water treatment.

The increase will be different for residents than businesses. Home bills will go from $7.49 a month to $27.74 in February. The businesses and commercial demand fee will go from $7.49 to $35 a month.

Council members said the city can’t afford to eat the fee increases recently made by the Jackson County Utility Authority.

“We’ve ridden for about two and a half years absorbing $600,000 to $700,000 without passing it to the consumer hoping that those rates would stabilize. But unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Councilwoman-at-Large Brenda Simkins.

But the JCUA says the city shouldn’t be placing the blame on them.

“We bill everyone 2.95 per thousand gallons. How they pass it on and add on whatever they want to add on is up to them,” said Michael Murphy, the authority board’s president.

They say an efficient sewage system costs money to operate.

“A lot of people flush and forget. They flush that toilet and forget what happens to that water afterward,” said Murphy.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1RjmY21 ) the new fees will allow the city to generate $2.3 million in revenue, with $1.8 million covering the JCUA’s charges to treat sewage. The rest will be used to make payments on the city’s $15 million bond issue for drainage and sewer line repairs.

The new fees will be reflected on bills to be mailed Feb. 12.

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Information from: WLOX-TV, https://www.wlox.com

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