City’s Water Crisis Between a Rock and a Hard haldol alternatives Place Jackson Free Press Jackson, MS

Four years ago, ron chane, a local businessman who owns swell-O-phonic in fondren, realized he was having an issue with his home water haldol alternatives bill when it jumped from $65 every two months to $200 a month. He went to the water and sewer business administration office haldol alternatives in the metrocenter mall to inquire about the rate hike. He was certain he wasn’t using that much water.

"I had a young lady that said part of (my) issue is that they’re having issues with the meters, and that’s why these bills are inflated. I didn’t know what she was talking about. She said it’s just how the meters are," chane said in an interview.

In 2013, mayor harvey johnson jr. Signed a contract with siemens for $90 million to install new water meters and a new haldol alternatives billing system for water and sewage services, along with physical upgrades to water and sewer lines and haldol alternatives the city’s sewage-treatment plants. In the years since, errors in water and sewer billing have plagued jackson residents, causing shortages in the city’s revenue from these services.

Chane said his bills kept being "crazy," so he stopped paying what they said he owed every haldol alternatives month. He started to pay his water bill every six weeks haldol alternatives and sent in $100 checks, he said. "Just recently, they sent a bill saying the water would be cut haldol alternatives off in a week unless I go to a hearing," he said.

Chane went to the city attorney and requested a hearing, but was told he would be lucky if he got haldol alternatives an appeal in the next six months. He then returned to metrocenter to put $200 on his bill to get further ahead, he told the jackson free press.

"The lady pulled up my account, and I told her everything I’m telling you. She could only see back 24 months. She was showing me from that point forward that my haldol alternatives bills had been leveled out. I said show me before that, and she said our records don’t go back that far," chane said.

The lack of records for bills that date farther than haldol alternatives two years makes customers look like a bunch of slackers, he said. "As I understand, they’re not going to cut our water off. They asked me if I’d be willing to settle. I’ll settle this for a third of what is due. It’s more than I feel like I owe, (but) I don’t like having a debt over my head," chane said.

At its aug. 20 meeting, the jackson city council passed an ordinance to allow administrative haldol alternatives hearings for water-and-sewer bill complaints. The city will hire a hearing officer to consider evidence haldol alternatives and findings from both customers and the water and sewer haldol alternatives business administration manager. The officer will make a recommendation to both parties.

If the customer’s claim is valid, the manager will draft a resolution for the council to haldol alternatives amend or adopt it as is. If the customer still owes the bill that is due, the council decides whether to discontinue service if the amount haldol alternatives is not paid within 10 days following the adoption of haldol alternatives the resolution.

"I would be fine with something like that," chane said of the new appeal process. "Of course, they can’t listen to everyone’s individual grievance, but if they were basing it on the records they haldol alternatives can see of two years, that’s not going to tell the story."

Ward 2 councilman melvin priester jr. Told the jackson free press that the switch to a haldol alternatives digital water reading system has caused a ton of problems haldol alternatives for the city of jackson and residents. "Because of these problems, a lot of people weren’t getting water bills for some time, and we weren’t getting that money. We’ve had to loan money to the water sewer department haldol alternatives from other areas because we weren’t collecting enough money."

Priester said mayor chokwe A. Lumumba has proposed that the city borrow money to fix haldol alternatives the water-billing process, so residents can get their bills on time. The proposal, which he said has its pros and cons, was a part of the public works 2020 budget presentation haldol alternatives on aug. 14.

The mayor’s proposal could increase the amount of billed and collected haldol alternatives revenues, deliver a system with robust capabilities, restore customer confidence and provide a foundation to support future haldol alternatives rate increases. But this option is also expensive and difficult, and success is not guaranteed, the presentation states.

The clean water act, passed in 1972, is a federal law that regulates the discharge of pollutants haldol alternatives in the country’s surface water, such as lakes, rivers and streams. In 2012, the city of jackson signed a consent decree from the haldol alternatives environmental protection agency and the mississippi department of environmental quality haldol alternatives to repair the sewage system in the city. The city violated the clean water act with infractions such haldol alternatives as lines bursting, sanitary system overflows and storm water getting into the sewage haldol alternatives drainage.

"By virtue of fixing the water-bill stuff, we generate more revenue to be spent on fixing pipes haldol alternatives and cleaning water to pay debts. There are some that feel that that is a reasonable haldol alternatives way to proceed. There are others that feel it would be a bad haldol alternatives idea to borrow money," priester said.

The public works budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year is $252,961,175, more than a $40-million-dollar decrease from the current year’s budget. The biggest question plaguing the budget deliberations is whether the haldol alternatives city council will select lumumba’s proposal, he said.

The city borrows money by issuing bonds, which are basically ious that taxpayers pay back to bond haldol alternatives holders on a set schedule. "The city has these bonds," priester said. "We’ve got an interest rate that we have to pay haldol alternatives as that’s the reason someone is willing to lend me money. The higher the interest rate, the more expensive it is to borrow the money. If I can have a lower interest rate, that’s cheaper."

But then bond insurance comes into play, in which a company promises to pay back the loan haldol alternatives if the city of jackson defaults on it, priester said. He said the bond insurers have been contacting the city haldol alternatives to say they are not making enough money to pay haldol alternatives their debts, which is dependent upon whether residents pay their water bills.

"We have people like the bond insurers and EPA saying, ‘increase what you charge for water and sewer,’" priester said. "If people can’t afford what we’re currently charging them, how do we do that? It would increase the number of people that couldn’t pay, and that’s really problematic."

Priester said jackson does not necessarily have the population that haldol alternatives can afford a big increase in water and sewer rates haldol alternatives with a median household income of $30,000. The city of jackson faces pressure to comply with the haldol alternatives EPA and bond insurers because they have the power to haldol alternatives take the sewer and water operations away and charge residents haldol alternatives what they think is fair, he said.

Ward 6 councilman aaron banks presented the 2020 budget for haldol alternatives the city of jackson to his constituents at the aug. 29 ward 6 town hall in an effort to be haldol alternatives more transparent with residents. Banks had an announcement regarding possible changes to the water haldol alternatives billing system.

The loan for $7 million will pay consultants to come in and advise haldol alternatives the public works department on how to deal with billing haldol alternatives issues and set rates, fix the software system, and train people to read the software because those who haldol alternatives work in the department now are not trained on that haldol alternatives level, banks told the town-hall audience.

The council, however, postponed a vote on the borrowing strategy. Priester said tuesday that he does not know when the haldol alternatives council will take up the borrowing approach, but a special hearing to vote on the millage rate haldol alternatives is thursday, sept. 5, at 6 p.M. Those results will affect whether or not the city will haldol alternatives vote to borrow, he said, and the council will decide no later than sept. 15, he deadline for a balanced budget. Without a unanimous vote, they cannot move forward. However, if the loan is approved, residents will have to pay it back.

Resident emon thompson said he appreciates banks’ honesty because it does not do the city any good haldol alternatives if they hide stuff. Of the options, he said it would be easier for the city to haldol alternatives take out a loan because raising water rates is not haldol alternatives a good idea with the current billing system.

"You’re not doing a quality job. Once you get your act together, then let’s talk about a raise in the fees," thompson said about the city. He saw a triple increase in his water bill during haldol alternatives the beginning stages of the new meter system, but he thought it had something to do with his haldol alternatives pool. He said he stopped paying his bill until the water-sewer business administration straightened everything out. "If you miss one payment and are late, then they demand you pay everything upfront. They make us suffer because of decisions they made. We didn’t have anything to do with this," he said.

Priester said an easy option would be to try to haldol alternatives hang on for another year, but it would not be acceptable to the EPA or haldol alternatives the city’s bond insurers. "As I sit here in 2019, (thinking) how I pay for our water sewer bill with a haldol alternatives population that is thinning and has less financial wherewithal to haldol alternatives increase rates. Your hands are tied by these rules," he said.

"We could borrow this money or not. We could raise rates. I don’t think that would be palpable to the city of haldol alternatives jackson," priester said. "We think about the citizens. People just want to get a water that is reasonable, get it every month and keep it moving."