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Residents might see increase in natural gas rates

retiring: Picayune Fire Department Deputy Chief John Mark Mitchell is offered a dollar by fellow fire department employee Janet Guidry during Tuesday’s city council meeting to pay for his badge and helmet. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

retiring: Picayune Fire Department Deputy Chief John Mark Mitchell is offered a dollar by fellow fire department employee Janet Guidry during Tuesday’s city council meeting to pay for his badge and helmet.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

A rate increase from the company that provides natural gas to the city of Picayune may result in an increase to city residents.

Public Works Director Eric Morris presented the agenda item to the council for City Clerk Amber Hinton, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. 

The matter involved an agreement between Gulf South Pipeline and the city. Morris said Gulf South Pipeline is the company that provides natural gas to the city, and is enacting a rate increase to all cities it provides the utility to. He said it’s been years since the company asked for an increase.

It’s unclear at this point just how much that rate increase will be. According to documentation provided to the city the rate increase could be between 40 to 60 percent.

Morris said this news is a double-edged sword, because the city’s recent work to replace aging cast iron natural gas pipes throughout Picayune has reduced the amount of unaccounted natural gas from 42 percent to 13 percent, which means that savings would be passed on to residential bill payers. In a best-case scenario, the two situations could wash each other out, Morris said. 

In other news, the council took time to recognize Picayune Fire Department Deputy Chief John Mark Mitchell for his 31 years of service to the city after approving a motion to allow him to purchase his badge and helmet for $1. Fire Chief Keith Brown said Mitchell started with the department as a volunteer, moving to a part time position four years later. 

Mayor Ed Pinero said Mitchell has done a lot of good for a lot of people.

“We know you’re not leaving Pearl River County, but you’re going to be sorely missed,” Pinero said. 

After the motion was passed several community members and city employees offered to pay the dollar, but Mitchell already had one in hand. 

The next meeting of the council will be Feb. 16 at 5 p.m.