City hires firm to study water revenues - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

City hires firm to study water revenues

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Jackson's water woes are more than broken pipes and sewer lines and Monday city leaders heard about a major shortfall in revenue and plans to try to stop the financial leak.

Public works officials told the council about the shortfall of millions in projected water revenue while they decided on hiring a firm to try to conduct a water sufficiency study for the city.

Despite recent water rate increases, Jackson's Public Works Director Kishia Powell told the city council that water sewer revenues were projected at approximately $78 million dollars for the fiscal year, but as of September 22nd there was a $14 million dollar shortfall.

Powell says one solution is running the department more efficiently and recommended that the city hire Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. to conduct a rate efficiency study of the water system and the current Siemens contract.

Raftelis, a Charlotte North Carolina based corporation, would review the Siemens contract and the components dealing with the installation of approximately 64,000 new digital water meters and its new billing system.

"We're trying to run the Department of Public Works like a business and it starts with our financials," said Powell. "So we have a consultant coming on board to help us develop a revenue recovery strategy to look at our rate sufficiency which is required by our bond covenants and to help us start developing a sound financial plan."

Harold Smith is the vice president of Raftelis. He said the corporation, which has been in existence since 1983, has conducted studies for about 500 utilities nationwide.

Smith told city leaders he studied the Siemens contract which he describes as complicated.

"The biggest piece is that the first piece is making sure that the billing system and those meters are working together so that the city's getting paid for the water that they're selling to their customers and that's gonna go a long way toward helping you meet your coverage ratios," said Smith.

The council approved the hiring the firm for $200,000.00 in a unanimous vote of five to zero.

Powell would not say if a water rate hike is in the foreseeable future, adding that it is too premature to talk about rate increases. 

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