Pascagoula considers re-adjusting utility rates

Pascagoula considers re-adjusting utility rates
Pascagoula considers readjusting utility rates after multiple complaints from residents. (Photo Source: WLOX News)

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - As utility rates in Pascagoula continue to be an issue, city workers are reviewing data to determine if increasing rates was the right decision.

Many residents say they received a huge shock after opening February's utility bill.

"I thought it must be a mistake, that's why I'm down here to ask them about it. My utility bill is higher than my power bill." said Jay Fletcher.

Fletcher's most recent bill was $178.38.

"$50.38 per month, that's $600 a year," Fletcher noted.

Fletcher joins hundreds of residents who are complaining to the utility department about the new rates. The city approved an ordinance to offset a $1.8 million increase from the Jackson County Utility Authority on Jan. 5.

City staff increased water and sewage demand fees across the board, and the new rates went into effect in February.

"The bill went from like, $45 to $85 in a month's time," said one resident on her way to pay her bill.

City leaders say some of the increases are due to billing errors, which will be refunded, but most reflect the new fees.

"You get a $40 hit to your budget, where do they expect that to come from?" the woman said.

However, things could soon change. After the first billing cycle, the city realized that the new fee structure would result in an overage in revenue. Officials are now considering readjusting the rates.

"What staff is doing now is we're going back and formulating some recommendations for the council to amend the ordinance," said Pascagoula City Manager Joe Huffman.

Though Huffman says there will still be an increase, there is a possibility that some bills may stay at the rate seen on the most recent bill.

The city is encouraging residents and businesses to not resize meters until the matter has been resolved. If it is determined that residents have overpaid, the city will issue a credit toward future bills.

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