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Flat rates to be set for Cedars Estates

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The City of Vicksburg will bill the Vicksburg Housing Authority for sewer and garbage collection at its Cedars Estates property under an agreement between VHA and the city.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved the agreement and amended the city’s utility ordinance, which sets the rates for city utility customers, to establish a $28 per household flat rate for sewer use at VHA housing properties that are not served by city gas and water.

Under the city’s ordinance, the sewer fee is based on water consumption. The residential rate is $12.90 for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.60 for the next 1,000 gallons used over the 2,000. The garbage collection fee is $17.50 per household. Customers who live outside the city limits pay double the rate assessed inside the city.

According to the agreement, which became effective July 1, the city will send the Cedars utility bills to VHA, which will pay the total. The city will also send the monthly utility and garbage bills for elderly residents at Urban Court, Jefferson Circle and Cossar Court for VHA to pay. VHA currently pays the water, sewer and gas service for senior citizens and disabled tenants.

“They will be paying that all in one flat fee (per month),” said Mayor George Flaggs Jr.

Housing authority executive director Ben Washington said Cedars residents’ rents will be adjusted to cover the sewer and garbage collection fees. He said the only other payment arrangement VHA has is with Warren County, where the housing authority pays the garbage fees for Beechwood residents on a quarterly basis. He added the Beechwood tenants’ rents are adjusted to cover the fees.

The amendment and agreement followed discussions by city and VHA officials in the wake of the discovery by utilities employees that 35 of Cedars’ 56 residents owed the city a total of $90,000 in unpaid sewer and garbage collection fees.

Under the utility ordinance, the city can cut off water and gas service when utility bills are not paid. The city, however, could not take that action against the Cedars residents, because they get their water from the Yokena-Jefferson Davis Water District and gas from Mississippi River Gas in Port Gibson.

Washington said the residents who owe back fees will have to meet with city water and gas administration officials to set up a repayment plan. He said a letter will be sent to the delinquent residents telling them to get with city officials to resolve the problem or face possible legal action.

“This action clears all of this up (the billing) from this point forward,” North Ward Aldermen Michael Mayfield said. “So we won’t find ourselves in the arrears again.”