Public Service Commissioner Presley holding water rate hearing

From Staff and Press Reports

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley has announced that he will hold a public hearing regarding a request by the city of Eupora to change water service rates in certificated areas in Webster and Choctaw counties.

The public hearing is set for 2 p.m. March 22 at the Webster County Justice Court located at 24 E. Fox Ave., Eupora, in the County Office Building.

Citizens with concerns or questions will be allowed to speak as public witnesses and have their comments placed on the official record of the case before the Public Service Commission.

The Eupora Board of Aldermen voted May 2 to “begin the process of the much-needed increase in the water rates to the first 2,000 gallons $24 minimum, anything over 2,000 gallons $5.70 per 1,000 gallons used, “ as stated in the minutes. The city filed notice of the rate increase with the Public Service Commission on Oct. 31, and the PSC published a related legal notice Nov. 16 and 23.

The pending hike in water rates affects everyone getting water from the city of Eupora, including Walthall, Bellefontaine and LaGrange water districts. Garbage and sewer rates will stay the same.

Mayor Dan Burchfield, in a Nov. 2 newspaper column, said, “We are asking the Public Service Commission to approve a $9 increase in everyone’s bill as well as increasing the flow rates from $2 per thousand to $5.70 per thousand. From analyzing current water bills, the average customer should recognize about an $11-per-month increase in their monthly bill.”

An Oct. 19 notice that the city sent to Eupora utility customers stated, “This rate increase is necessary to pay for our current debt incurred for repair, maintenance and replacing of aging infrastructure for the water system along with other necessary water distribution improvements.”

Burchfield wrote in his column that the rate increase will enable the city to:

  • increase the flow rate of water from its wells to all customers and increase pressure systemwide.
  • increase the storage capacity systemwide by almost 40 percent.
  • create a redundancy of lines to make sure that one water break affects the least number of people.
  • clean and repaint all the tanks, thereby increasing its water quality.

The last water rate increase inside the city limits was in 2010, when the city went up $2 on the minimum. The last increase in Bellefontaine, Walthall and LaGrange was in 1998.

The rate increase will be effective as soon as practicable after approval by the PSC, according to the notice from the city.