During their October 20 meeting, the city of Clinton Board of Aldermen approved several changes to the water fee structure requested by the Public Works Department. Changes will become effective November 20, 2015.
According to Public Works personnel, the changes were necessitated by a need to recoup the costs of providing services.
Board members approved removing dumpsters from Springridge Mobile estates that the city pays for and currently bills residents of the private neighborhood $15.50 per month for the service. Over the past few years, the cost of providing the service has increased to over $16.50 per customer each month, meaning the city was losing money on the agreement.
Currently, all other apartment and multi-family in Clinton are responsible for their own garbage disposal contracts. Removing dumpsters and returning waste removal to the responsibility of the property owner will prevent the city form losing money on garbage collection at a private enterprise.
In other action, the board approved several proposals related to the reconnection of service for non-payment of bills.
Currently, water customers that are two months delinquent on their bill are disconnected and required to pay a $40 reconnect fee. Board members approved increasing the reconnect fee from $40 to $50. Department personnel, have requested the increase in the reconnect fees in order to recoup the real costs of reconnection. Not only do reconnections require personnel costs to send workers out, but create wear and tear on our vehicles.
Each month, around 150 customers are disconnected due to non-payment of their bill in full by due date. According to Public Works Director Mike Parker, “about 125 customers of these each month are regularly on the disconnect list for non-payment of their water bills. So basically 250 of our almost 10,000 customers are repeat offenders every two months.”
Parker stated that in addition to recouping the actual costs, that he hopes “the increased fees will act as a deterrent for habitually past due customers.”
In action related to reconnection of past due customers, the Board approved the request to eliminate after hours and weekend call outs to reconnect water service due to non-payment. Accounts must be paid in full by the due date to avoid late fee or service charge.
According to Parker, every after hours call out requires that two employees to be paid a minimum of three hours overtime, even if it is only one customer. Eliminating the after-hours reconnections will help control costs for all customers and prevent undue burden on the rates of customers who pay their bills on time.
This board action does not eliminate after hours emergency calls for broken lines and service disruption.
Currently, the city offers multiple options for bill payment. Customers are mailed bills monthly for water usage; the billing also includes the sanitary sewer charge and the solid waste disposal fee. Drop boxes are available 24 hours a day until 4 PM on the water payment due date. Payment drop boxes are located at 961 Highway 80 East, 300 Jefferson Street and 527 Springridge Road.
Residents may also pay their bills through bank draft each month. To set up bank draft, customers are asked to contact Public Works at (601) 924-2239 to make arrangements. Online payment is available for a convenience fee on the city website at www.clintonms.org.
In a move that does not affect current water customers, the Board approved eliminating the water deposit for new customers in lieu of a non-refundable service fee for new customers. The fee will be $125 for homeowners and $175 for renters. The fee change does not impact current customers existing service deposits. Existing customer’s deposits will be applied to their final bill upon their termination of service.
Public Works personnel, noted that the service fee will cover the actual incurred costs of inspecting meters and turning on service for new customers. Due to issues with renters signing up for service in July and August to prove school residency, renters will be required to pay the extra $50 on their service fee due the frequency of their moves.
Parker noted that some customers will establish service in July and August only to cancel service several weeks later once they have proven residency in CPSD. The additional fee covers the additional cost of connecting and disconnecting these customers.
Board members also voted to add a new $75 transfer fee for customers transferring service from one residence to another. The new fee will cover the actual cost of deploying personnel to transfer the service fro0m one location to another.
“We’re always trying to find that right balance for service fee increases, but unfortunately it just gets more expensive to run the system every year,” Parker said.
“Our costs don’t go down and there’s only so much we can do before we start eating into our ability to maintain the system properly and keep it running for future generations. State law mandates that we cannot provide services for free,” he added.
In other action, the board approved $1.00 per month to each customer’s water bills for city beautification. According to Mayor Fisher, “the purpose of this fund is to enhance the beautification of Clinton Mississippi. As the Mayor and BOA agree, this monies from the $1.00 addition to the garbage fee shall be used for these purposes only;
All landscaping on City property along roads, I-20/state-aid roads, City owned buildings, and inside City Parks.
Purchase and installation of ornamental lighting along major thoroughfares to tie the areas of the community together. This does not apply to neighborhood lighting. Major thoroughfares include;
- The Clinton Parkway
- Northside Drive
- Clinton Blvd.
- Highway 80
- Springridge Road
- Monroe Street
- College Street
- Woodchase Dr.
- Clinton Raymond Road
For more information regarding these changes, residents may contact Public Works at (601) 924-2239 for more assistance.