Harrison County

Biloxi utility rates stay put for most residents

BILOXI -- After weeks of discussion, the City Council voted Tuesday to raise water and sewer rates to help meet the city's expenses.

"This proposal will not impact 70 percent of the users," said Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich.

Those who use less than 5,000 gallons of water a month won't see any change in their bills.

Increases for other users will start April 1 and continue each year through 2020. The new rates, per 1,000 gallons:

-- For 5,000-6,000 gallons used, water rates will be $1.35 in April, increasing every year until they reach $1.58 in 2020. Sewer rates will increase from $2.86 in April to $3.34 by 2020.

-- For 6,000-8,000 gallons used, water rates will increase from $1.37 in April to $1.61 by 2020. Sewer rates will increase from $2.89 in April to $3.41 by 2020.

-- For 8,000-25,000 gallons used, water rates will increase from $1.48 in April to $1.77 in 2020. Sewer rates will increase from $3.03 in April to $3.61 by 2020.

-- For greater than 25,000 gallons used, water rates will increase from $1.50 in April to $1.80 by 2020. Sewer rates will increase from $3.06 in April to $3.68 by 2020.

Cities are required by law to charge rates that will cover the expenses of operating the utilities, although for years Biloxi has subsidized the accounts. The council looked at several options before coming up with the latest revision and Councilman Paul Tisdale said, "Actually I think it's the best."

In other action Tuesday, the council:

-- Approved the appointment of Jane Wallace Meynardie to the Biloxi School Board.

-- Agreed to emergency paving of streets in East Biloxi, particularly Division Street. Gilich said he is working with the contractors to speed up the work by installing pipes in certain sections and making the connections to other parts of the project as they are completed, allowing the streets to get a first coat of paving.

-- Reaffirmed awarding the contract for infrastructure work south of the railroad tracks in East Biloxi to Hemphill Construction. The amount of funding available for the project is $139 million and Hemphill's bid was $93.7 million. The low bidder, Oscar Renda Contracting, has filed suit against the city after its bid was rejected when a document was omitted from the bid package.

-- Voted to stay in the Motor Vehicle for Hire Commission with Gulfport and D'Iberville, with a change in regulations. Under the proposal, which must be approved by those cities, the board will go from five to three members, fees taxi companies and drivers are charged will be reduced and rules will be reviewed and may be changed.

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