GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport residents may pay 5 percent more in water bills to pay for infrastructure improvements Gulfport's plan to remedy many of the city's flooding woes has some residents concerned they will soon be in hot water financially.
The council passed a $30 million bond with $20 million of it going into water, sewer and drainage improvements. Some residents said they're not happy that much of the expense could be tacked on to their water bills.
Although there was no rain in Gulfport on Tuesday, there was standing water in the ditches on Poole Street. Poole Street is one of dozens of streets where Gulfport wants to make improvements in either drainage, water or sewer.
"Actually it means an overhaul of our infrastructure system as far as water and sewer," said Dr. John Kelly, who is the city administrator. "We have a lot of infrastructure in the ground that's 50-years-old and older. We've had flooding in the city in recent years. All of that will come up out of the ground. New infrastructure will go in and hopefully eliminate much of the flooding we've had in our city."
Reverend, Jerry Williams spoke to the council on behalf of his congregation and others in the community. He asked the city to find another way to fund the improvements other than raising the water rate.
"An increase in the water is going to hurt our senior citizens," said Williams.
The pastor said many in the community can't afford the five percent water bill hike right now.
"People are having to go to churches and different organizations to help pay the bills that they have now. Water bill. Light bill," Williams said. "It would not be good for us as a community as far as the city of Gulfport to raise the water bill rates at this time."
City leaders said infrastructure work should begin in the next three to four months and they believe residents will see the benefits are worth paying for in their water sewer bills.
Dr. Kelly said, "It will be a slight increase in water rate, but the flip side of that is, we hope it will eliminate many of the problems in communities that have never flooded before. All of a sudden they're flooding. So we think this is the best way to go."