Flaggs: Rate increase on utilities negotiable

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The city’s proposed utility rates are open to negotiation, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said before Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, adding Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Monsour have received copies of the proposed rate structure, “And I don’t know what their opinions are.”

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The mayor announced the proposed rate increases at an April 20 public meeting. The new rates were recommended by a 10-member committee appointed by Flaggs to examine the city’s water and sewer rate structure.

Under the new rate structure, the minimum rate a customer would pay is set on a sliding scale based on the size of the water meter and water use.

The least a residential customer will pay under the new schedule is $10.06 for the first 2,000 gallons, an increase of $1.31 more than the $8.75 minimum rate users have paid since the rates were raised in 2015. Commercial and industrial users would pay a minimum of $41.18 for the first 4,000 gallons used, a $5.37 increase from the present rate of $35.81.

The minimum residential sewer rate was increased by $3.20, from $12.90 to $16.10 for the first 2,000 gallons, and from $3.96 to $4.96 per 1,000 gallons for the second 2,000 gallons — a $1 increase.

The new minimum commercial rate is $43.31 for the first 2,000 gallons, an increase of $15.06 over the present rate of $28.25, and $4.96 per 1,000 gallons for the second 2,000, an increase of $1 over the present $3.96. The industrial sewer rate is unchanged at $446 for the first 200,000 gallons.

When he presented the new rates, Flaggs said the increase was necessary because the present rate structure approved in 2015 is insufficient to cover the cost of providing water and sewer service.

“In the last five years, it is costing us more to provide water and sewer than we collect,” he said, adding the city is in the process of upgrading the electrical system at the water treatment plant and is in the process of preparing to install an auxiliary water line.

If there are ways the board can adjust the increase so it will not adversely affect the city, Flaggs said, “We will look at that, but we’re not there yet. But I have every intention to vote for a rate increase.”

In another matter, Flaggs said he will meet with Gov. Phil Bryant in May in Vicksburg.

“The governor has decided to come to my office,” he said.

He did not list any specific topics for the meeting, adding, “We’re going to have discussions about challenges facing cities, and some other things.”

After the meeting, Flaggs said he and Bryant “are just going to talk about challenges and municipal government.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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