| By Jason C. Mattox
After meeting with representatives of the Mississippi Rural Water Association Tuesday night, the City of Sardis is considering an increase in water rates although nothing was decided.
Tom Abernathy explained to Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye and the board of aldermen that a rate increase is needed.
"For some of you who were on the board during the previous administration, I recommended a rate increase three years ago," he said. "For whatever reason, the board decided against that increase, and one is needed now."
Abernathy explained that the biggest revenue would come from a rate hike inside the city limits.
"You have 673 residents inside the city," he said. "That is your largest customer base, and would generate the most revenue."
Abernathy explained that it would be easier on residents if the board raised rates by a small percentage each year rather than one large hike every four.
"It is definitely easier to raise the rates a little at a time rather than hit the residents with one large one that might raise a flag," Dye replied.
Dye told board members there was a need for the increase due in part to an increase in other utility rates.
"Over the last year, our utility rates have climbed nearly 25 percent," he said. "There is really no way for us to budget for an increase we don’t see coming, but we do need to get our rates more in line.
"And believe me I know raising rates is a sore subject as much as raising taxes, but there is really no way around it," Dye added. "We have to keep offering the services, and the rates are going to have to go up to keep providing the same services we do."
If rates are increased to $15 from $12.55 and the overage charge is increased to $4 per 1,000 gallons, it would generate $56,000 in revenue (annually) for the city, Abernathy said.
"There are municipalities out there that don’t even offer a minimum rate," he said. "They charge you a rate for the service and whatever you use you pay for."
The last water rate increase implemented by the city was in 2003, according to City Clerk Odessa Johnson.
Dye and aldermen also discussed repairing and replacing an estimated 60 water meters.
"We have a lot of meters that are stuck, and that is going to have to be fixed or simply increasing the price for additional usage will not be a big benefit to the city," Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said.
Aldermen are expected to finalize the new water rate during a meeting next Monday at 5 p.m.
| In other board business:
||An increase in dispatch fees for the Como Police Department was discussed but not acted upon.
"I don’t think we have increased their dispatch fees in the last two years," Johnson said. "That is certainly something you can do if you choose to."
||Michael Purdy was named assistant code inspector for the city. He will assist Robert Earl Wilkie.
"We sent Purdy to school, and I think he can be a big help in home inspections and code enforcement," Dye said.