GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - For months we have reported on the issues plaguing the City of Gulfport’s water billing. One viewer, who asked to remain anonymous, sent in a bill for over $2,800. That particular bill is indicative of the hardships facing people that live and work in the city of Gulfport.
“Now they wanna rectify a problem that they’ve known has been around for maybe two years. We’ve got these, what we call, computerized meters, but they were broke so they just sat dormantly. Now they wanna get all of this fixed and repaired but at a cost to the citizens by making our monthly rate go up by 50%," said 30-year resident Lenn Wyche.
Wyche said that correcting the problem could be as simple as going back to what was in the ground in the first place.
“A fair compromise would be to go back to when we didn’t have computerized meters. We didn’t ask for them anyway. The city made that judgment without any interaction from the citizens," Wyche said.
Lavon Trotter has been a resident since 1993 and is living on a fixed income.
“I’m 72 years old and a senior citizen. I’m on disability, and not only that, I have children with disabilities in my house. It’s terrible. They don’t regard our status and how we’re struggling just water on in the house nowadays.,” Trotter said. “I think they’re trying to make us pay for the new meters because the old meters weren’t working good."
Councilman R. Lee Flowers said that while a proposed resolution is on the table, it might still not be the right answer.
“In the business world, I know how this works. If you overcharge a customer, you give them their money back and if you undercharge them you eat it. Well this is government and it’s a little bit different than that, but if we think we’re gonna go squeeze some of these customers that can’t afford to pay their bill, if we increase it, then we’re foolish," Flowers said.
“I will not support a rate increase on water bills. Absolutely. I will cast a no vote to increase water bills almost 50%. I have asked Mayor Billy Hewes and the administration to reconsider this disaster and do not increase water bills at this time," said Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines.
If you are affected by water bill issues, there will be a special public meeting of the city council this Friday to discuss the proposed resolution regarding the billing changes.