Pearl River Co. Utility Authority looking to raise water rates, fees
Published 7:39 am Friday, November 20, 2015
Ratepayers who buy water from the Pearl River County Utility Authority take note: A rate hike is coming.
The board of directors met Thursday and voted to see a new rate structure in December. Executive Director Ray Scott said he would have one ready. Scott asked the board to take action at Thursday’smeeting.
“Ya’ll need to consider taking action on the rate increase,” he said.
The good news is, the rate increase will likely only affect the people who use above the minimum amount of water per month, or more than 3,000 gallons of water per month.
There has been talk of a rate increase for months following a suggestion from an outside group that studied the utility’s rate structure.
There is similar talk of an increase for water users in the city of Picayune, and Scott said he heard the city may drop its water minimums from 4,000 gallons a month to 3,000 gallons a month.
“I think their minimum is 4,000 ours is 3,000, and I think they want to align theirs with ours. That’s what city clerk Amber (Hinton) said they’d do,” Scott said.
The city is considering a rate hike to pay for extensive repairs to its water lines. However, in a text message, Public Works Director Eric Morris said the city has not decided any course of action to pay for the project.
“It is one of many considerations and discussion points that have not been exercised, nor does it have a timetable for implementation at this time,” wrote Morris. “We are exploring every conceivable avenue that could generate the funds needed to incrementally upgrade our water infrastructure. It will ultimately be the city council’s decision when what is determined to be our best course of action is proposed to them.”
Besides water usage, Scott suggested raising other fees, too.
“Plus we’ve got other rates like tap fees and connection fees, they probably need some adjustments too, because of the costs to get those things done.”
However, before the PRCUA raises any fees or rates, the issue will need to go through a public hearing.
Board President James Sones said when the time comes for a vote to raise rates, he hopes each director will vote to do it, as it is an economic necessity for the utility.
“We’re solvent now and we want to stay that way,” he said. “And a little bit now can keep us that way for a long period of time as I understand it. However, if we do nothing, and that would be easier on me and easier on you, but down the road we’d be no better off than some other organizations are now.”
Much of the meeting was given to updates on the ongoing wastewater system rehabilitation project. PRCUA engineer Vernon Moore said work is going well and reported no issues at any of the sites.
Besides that, the board approved some change orders on the wastewater project and approved a couple of work orders on the project.
The board also paid back a loan, approved a sewer adjustment and approved state holidays for PRCUA employees.
The board voted to table approval to a contract and the board rescinded motion it made at the last meeting to donate work and material to connect the Nicholson Volunteer Fire Department’s new facility to the PRCUA sewer system.
The reason the board took back their offer to do the work for free is because the volunteer fire department got some money from the county.
Sones said the county is making the new fire station a voting precinct, and as such the county gave the volunteer fire department $15,000 to spend on the station.