Gulfport Trims Water Fees For Dedeaux Utility Customers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/14/05

Gulfport Trims Water Fees For Dedeaux Utility Customers

A month ago, Dedeaux Utility operated the water tower near Dedeaux Road. It supplied water to 1,600 Gulfport residents. On December 28, 2004, a judge told Gulfport to take over the system.

"And it has become a nightmare," ward six councilman Chuck Teston said.

Teston has heard his share of complaints since the takeover. Most of the anger focused on the $10 connection fee and the $50 deposit customers had to pay to get city water.

"It's the process that's been used for this particular acquisition that really bothers the daylights out of me," Teston said.

To remedy the situation, Teston and Billy Hewes got their colleagues to waive the city's $10 connection fee, as long as the Dedeaux Utility customer had paid their bills the previous 12 months.

At one point, councilman Kim Savant questioned why Gulfport would consider giving its new water customers a break.

Here's why. Before they had to pay water bills to the city, Dedeaux Utility customers received Gulfport bills for sewer, garbage and debt service. And according to city records, 618 Dedeaux Utility customers owed the city $309,000.

"I'll personally get involved and work my heart out, and get those people to pay their bills," said Teston.

Two-thirds of the people who get water from this tank have switched over to the Gulfport billing system. The other Dedeaux Utility customers have until March 1 to sign a contract with the city.

The city council also voted to waive the $50 deposit for Dedeaux Utility customers who had the same sterling payment records. Gulfport has an ordinance already on the books that does the same thing for every water customer who pays their bills in a timely manner.

by Brad Kessie

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