Water & Sewer Rates May Be Rising In Hancock County

Hancock County Water and Sewer District customers could soon be forced to pay more for sewer service. District leaders are considering raising rates from $35 a month to about $47, and a number of residents are not happy about the proposed increase.

James Long has lived in the Shoreline Park Community for 20 years.. He says one of the reasons he moved to the area was because of low utility rates. He says he understands cost of living increases, but thinks the proposed rate hike is excessive.

"That's a big amount. I can't see it. People come back in here, most of them are retired, on a fixed income. It's not going to kill me, but I can't see too much of a jump all at one time."

Long's neighbor Brumby McGehee agrees.

"Twelve dollars a month for me, 144 a year, I don't like it. I don't see any reason for it."

Water and Sewer District leaders say they are losing money from people who aren't paying their bills. They also point to higher costs to treat wastewater at the treatment plant.

District Director Eddie Renz told WLOX News, "The Water and Sewer District has solicited the help of the County Supervisors to address every avenue available for finding funding. The last thing we want to do is raise rates".

One option they are considering to prevent a rate increase is a front footage fee. That means people who own property in the district would pay a fee for the service even if a home is not on the land.

"I'm not sure that that would be the thing to do, because if those people are not even living there or using it, why should they be paying," Hancock County Business Owner Matzi Kerrinnes said.

Another funding option is a tax increase, but county leaders say that won't go over well with anyone.

The Water & Sewer District Board says it will meet with the Board of Supervisors in coming weeks to try and come up with a solution everyone can live with.

by Al Showers