Utility board looks at rate hike plans

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 21, 2015

RATE SUGGESTIONS: Tommy Hicks from Communities Unlimited presents rate increase options to the utility board.

RATE SUGGESTIONS: Tommy Hicks from Communities Unlimited presents rate increase options to the utility board. Photo by Ashley Collins.

Thursday, a representative from Communities Unlimited presented several rate options available that could help generate cash flow for the Pearl River County Utility Authority’s upcoming fiscal year.

Thomas “Tommy” A. Ricks III, director of community sustainability for Communities Unlimited, presented his comprehensive rate analysis, which detailed three options the board could choose from, which would minimally raise rates in order to increase cash flow for the utility authority’s projected capital improvements countywide.

“All three proposals are considered viable alternatives and generate the same amount of cash flow,” Hicks said.

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Hicks recommended the first rate, which would increase the “volumetric” rate from $2.50 to $3 per thousand gallons. The projections are valid if the board decides to implement a rate increase plan by Jan. 1, 2016, Hicks said.

Residents won’t notice a huge impact on their rate changes unless their utility usage increases, Hicks said.

Dr. James Sones, utility authority board president, said they plan to review the rates before making a final decision.

Also at the meeting, the board approved Dungan Engineering to assist Walmart in the rehabilitation of the existing pump station near the store. Utility Authority Engineer Vernon Moore said they plan to advertise for bids.

In other news, the board:

—Received a check for $17,310.83 from MEMA funds.

—The board also plans to hold a joint meeting, along with city officials, to discuss matters regarding the Highway 11 expansion with the transportation commissioner. The utility’s Interim Executive Director Ray Scott said the state of Mississippi would cover 100 percent of the expenses incurred to remove utilities from a construction area to cities that have less than 10,000 people within its limits.

“We plan to work with the city to talk to the commissioner to see if we can work something out since it’s expensive to move utilities and the population of the city is not that far over 10,000,” Scott said.

The next board meeting will be Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Picayune treatment facility on Neal Road.