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Water rate increase likely for most in Natchez

April 16, 2022 GMT

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — It’s been 15 years since Natchez residents have seen a rate hike for water services. It’s been 11 years for everyone else who buys water from the city.

Natchez Water Works Superintendent Tony Moon laid out a plan earlier this week to increase water rates, saying the city simply can not wait any longer.

“We are a business and no successful business can continue to go on and not have to raise the cost of goods. This should have been brought to you all sooner, and that’s my fault. Things kept happening to make use push this down the road. The pandemic was an obvious one. And our 2021 was more challenging than our 2020,” Moon said at the board’s March 22 meeting. “It’s come to a time that something has to be done.”

Moon said costs of equipment, manpower and providing services have increased to the point where a rate increase is necessary, The Natchez Democrat reported.

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If approved by the Board of Aldermen, the base ratepayers who use fewer than 300 cubic feet of water per month would see a $2 per month increase for water and a $2 increase per month for sewer beginning July 1. Base ratepayers make up 38.5% — 2,671 users — of the city’s total 6,939 residential, business and industry connections. This group would not see another increase during the six-year transition period.

“They would be one and done,” Moon said.

The majority of ratepayers in the city — 60% or 4,184 ratepayers — are those who use between 300 and 10,000 cubic feet of water per month. The rate for those users would be increased by 5% per 100 cubic feet of water used each year over six years, beginning with the second year on Oct. 1, 2023, Moon said.

He and others at Natchez Water Works and consultants have been working for months on the most palatable way to raise water and sewer rates.

“I am all about trying to be fair and I tried to look at all of these groups as if I had a child living in each one — industry, big business, small business, residence, big family, elderly — I tried to look at all that,” Moon said.

“We tried to make this as fair and spread it out as best we could,” he said.

The Board of Aldermen voted to take the issue under advisement. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for April 26.