CARROLLTON – After more than a decade, the Carrollton Board of Aldermen voted to begin the process of raising water rates.
The board voted to raise the variable water rate from $4 to $6 for every $1,000 gallons of water used over 2,000 gallons, which is billed at a flat rate of $18. There will not be an increase in the flat rate.
According to Carrollton Mayor Pam Lee, increasing water rates was necessary due to the increase in costs to operate the system and the need for system improvements in the future.
In the month of March, the town had to replace a pump at one of the wells, and the cost was more than $32,000. This expense was part of why the town’s water fund showed a loss of $36,313 for the month of March. The fund is showing a total loss of $49,397 since the beginning of the fiscal year 2018, which began October 1.
“The Board of Aldermen has given great consideration to the careful management of the town’s water system and its resources,” Lee said. “The water system serves 441 households, in the town and surrounding area. To meet this need, we have three wells. In the fall we asked Dr. Jason Barrett, a [Mississippi State] Extension specialist who works with water systems across the state to look at our system and help us understand our options.”
Lee said the last time the town raised water rates was in 2008, and before that, according to Town Clerk Linda McGregor, the rates had not changed since the mid-1980s.
“The cost of one gallon at the base rate is less than one cent,” Lee said. “The cost per gallon at the variable rate [for those who use more than 2,000 per month] ranges from about four cents to seven cents per gallon. Compare that with a 20 ounce bottle of water that is sold in stores for $1. A gallon of water at that rate will cost $6.40.”
Lee said the cost of operating the water system has increased dramatically over the years. The cost of the telephone line to connect with the pumps continued to increase and were not reliable. Eventually the town had to use a different method of communicating with the pumps.
In addition, the requirements that must be followed by the Mississippi Department of Health cost money.
“Cleaning and repainting the [water tanks], inside and out, [must be done] on a regular basis,” Lee said. “The last cost to repaint a well exceeded over $70,000.”
McGregor told the board it would take until the end of April to get the necessary paperwork together to send to the Mississippi Public Service Commission for approval. If the commission approves, the measure will be brought back to the town where public hearings and a final vote will be taken.
Carrollton Water Operator Galen Shumaker said it would likely be fall before the process is complete.
In other town business:
• Longtime Town Clerk Linda McGregor submitted her letter of retirement to the board of aldermen. McGregor, who has served as clerk since the mid-1980s, said she will continue working until the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2018.
“It has been fun and it has been interesting,” McGregor said.
Alderman Allan Lee said, “We appreciate your service to the town.”
Lee said the town will begin accepting applications for McGregor’s replacement.
• Lee informed the board that Carrollton has a new business, In Stitches, owned by Susan Dunn and Ellen Hey. The monogramming and embroidery business is located just next door to Carrollton Town Hall.
• The board voted to contract Doyle Carpenter to construct two wooden barriers to be installed at the Lexington entrance to Hafner Street, announcing the street is one-way.
• Lee informed the board that the Friends of the Library plan to sponsor a salad tasting to raise money to replace the tables and chairs at the Carrollton Community House. Lee said the event will be held on July 28.
• The board voted to hire Andy Vining as the permanent fire chief of the Carrollton North Carrollton Fire Department. Vining has served as interim fire chief since January.
• The board adopted a resolution honoring firefighters serving at the Carrollton North Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department prior to January 1, 2018.