| By Jason C. Mattox
Renters using water from the City of Sardis will have to pay a larger deposit following Tuesday night’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said the city needed to make some changes to fees and deposits on water to help lower the number of late payments on water bills.
"We have a lot of people who run up a high water bill and then either skip out on it or come down and put water in another family member’s name," he said.
City Clerk Odessa Johnson said the water deposit for a new renter inside the city limits was $80 and $90 outside the city limits.
"What if we raised the deposit amount," Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still said. "That would at least cover us more if someone skipped out on a bill."
Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson said the deposit amounts should be raised.
"Should we also look at changing the cut-off dates," he added.
The present cut off date in the city is when a bill becomes 40 days past due.
"It does seem to me like we are giving them too long," Dye said. "By the time we reach the cut-off date, people have two months of water bills. You could be looking at a $150 bill."
Still made the motion to raise the in city water deposit for renters from $80 to $100 and out of city renters fees from $90 to $125.
Those motions passed unanimously.
The next step taken by the city to reduce the number of late bills was changing the reconnect fees.
"Presently we charge $25 to reconnect," Johnson told the board. "We charge them $50, if we have to go replace a pulled water meter."
"That’s way too low," City Attorney Tommy Shuler said.
Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said he felt like the low fees were a major reason in late payment.
"A lot of people will meet our people at the streets to pay the bill when we go to cut off the water," he said.
"Some of these people are not going to pay until there isn’t any water coming through their faucets," Dye added.
Scallorn proposed raising reconnect fees to $75 and $150 if the meter was pulled.
The board unanimously passed that motion.