City right to seek rate increase for water, sewer service to improve outdated systems

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, August 26, 2017

The announcement by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. that the city will be examining its rate structure for water and sewer service with an eye toward a rate increase should not come as a surprise to anyone.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen last approved a rate increase in 2014 after a rate study by engineers Allen & Hoshall indicated the city was charging less than other communities for water and sewer service.

This new rate structure will be used to help city officials set a budget, not only operate and maintain the system, but to be able to afford the repairs and improvements necessary to bring the city’s water and sewer system up to date so it can handle the increased load anticipated by the city’s growth in the future.

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We have in the past written on several occasions about the age and condition of Vicksburg’s sewer and water systems, and the need for action to repair, replace and upgrade these systems to better serve the city’s customers. We have highlighted situations where parts of the system have failed, causing city officials to close streets for repairs and order boil water notices because of these failures.

Vicksburg is under a consent decree from the EPA to assess, map, repair and upgrade its sewer system over 10 years.

Now, instead of an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” city officials and community leaders realize we need a strong infrastructure if we want to grow and improve this area’s economy and attract industry.

The mayor highlighted the urgency of the improving our infrastructure in July.

“If you’re going to grow and expand the way we’re talking about growing and expanding and developing the city around it, we’re going to have to put some money out as relates to water treatment and wastewater in this city, because we’re at a breaking point.

“I don’t see how we can continue to improve the quality of service and meet all of these decrees at the same cost,” he said.

“It’s just impossible.”

We have to realize that in order for our city to grow and become the tourist destination it can be, and if we want to attract companies with good-paying jobs to encourage our children to stay home, there’s a price, and we all should share the load.