Harrison County

Biloxi council tables hike to water, sewer rates

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDThe Biloxi City Council will discuss water and garbage rates during their meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDThe Biloxi City Council will discuss water and garbage rates during their meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.

BILOXI -- Councilman Paul Tisdale said Tuesday he needs more time to review the proposed increase to water and sewer rates to determine how they will affect residents.

The council unanimously voted to table the first reading of the ordinance and to have a second workshop at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 27.

"I know we need to do it," Councilman Felix Gines said of increasing rates.

By law, the expenses of the water and sewer department must be covered by fees, although the city for years has covered part of the costs from its general fund.

Gines said he is concerned what the higher rates will mean in East Biloxi, where he said residents need to use more water to wash their homes and cars because infrastructure projects have most of the streets down to dirt.

"We're going to use a lot of water," he said. "Will my community be able to afford this?"

Also Tuesday, the council had a first reading to create an advisory tree committee to work with city officials and developers to protect Biloxi's Live oaks and other protected trees.

A representative from each of the seven wards would serve a three-year term on the committee, with one of those members serving as a liaison to the city's Development Review Committee.

The committee would comment on any proposal to cut five or more trees and would identify sites where trees should be planted when others are removed.

The council also:

-- Agreed to provide $110,000 to hire a chief financial officer, who must be a certified public accountant.

-- Voted to approve short-term rentals -- in commercial and multi-family zones only.

-- Had a first reading to establish Biloxi's own taxi regulations through Community Development and pull out of the Motor Vehicle for Hire Commission.

-- Approved a $10,000 donation to buy building materials for Tippah County Fire Department. The department lost everything in a tornado; Biloxi has so far donated a fire truck and provided volunteers.

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