City faces multi-million dollar water/sewer shortfall - - Jackson, MS

City faces multi-million dollar water/sewer shortfall

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

More water/sewer woes for the City of Jackson. This time it's not major water main breaks but millions lost in collections.

While Jackson residents grapple with whopping bills or no water bills at all, they are surprised to learn that there is a $4.9 million dollar shortfall in the water/sewer contingency fund.

Officials with the Department of Administration told council members during Monday's Budget Committee meeting that the shortfall was not discovered until mid January. The major contributing factor is water/sewer bill collections.

Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote said previously the city was losing up to a million dollars a month on water theft through illegal straight pipe installations.

"It's not like people in Jackson just decided to stop using water. That's not the problem," said Foote. "This is a monopoly we've got, and we need to collect the money that we're delivering the product. We've got all these billing problems, but we've got to get beyond that and collect the money."

Officials said meters not installed and not reading properly, water theft, no bills and uncollected bills contributed to the shortfall.

Ward Two Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. pointed out that the problems cited with billing were previously reported by the Raftelis Consultants.

"They talk about uncollected revenues, many accounts are delinquent and have significant account receivable balances; however, the city does not have an active pro-active collections process. And that's what they said in a report from February 27, 2015," Priester told the council.

Public Works Director Kishia Powell offered several examples of lost money including thousands of residents being under billed.

"The misapplication of the minimum sewer charge that actually 22,973 accounts were charged less than the minimum they should have been charged. That was calculated as $1.46 million in lost revenue," said Powell.

She added that those meters have since been corrected.

Powell added that corrections are also being made with meters and billing to address the issues that led to the shortfall.

The Bond Ordinance requires the waster/sewer fund have $8.4 million dollars. It is currently has $3.4 million.

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