WINONA – The Board of Aldermen are mulling over a possible water rate increase due to a shortfall in the water budget.
According to JoJo Grammer of Mississippi Rural Water Association, the City of Winona has a $118,272.44 shortfall in its budget. The city has not raised water rates since 2011.
Grammer presented three water rate increase options to the Winona Board of Aldermen, and recommended the third option because it would cover the shortfall.
Currently, the City of Winona’s water rates are made up of a $15 for 2,000 gallons base rate and $3.25 per 1,000 after that, with a $12 flat rate sewer fee. The business base rate is $20.50 for 2,000 gallons and $3.25 per 1,000 after that.
The proposed rate increase would equal two percent, raising the base rate to $17 per month for 2,000 gallons base rate and $4.50 for every 1,000 gallons after that. Businesses would pay a base rate of $22 for 2,000 gallons and $4.50 per 1,000 gallons after that. The sewer rate would be 90 percent of the water usage fee.
Grammer said the two percent rate increase would be the best option because it will bring in $1,500,000 and the water fund needs $1,485,000 cover its expenses.
According to Winona City Clerk June Williams, the average water usage in the city is 5,385 gallons, and with the rate increase, the new water fee would be $61.24 on average.
Grammer recommended the city try to build up a cash reserve in the event that of an emergency like a pump going down, which costs around $60,000 to repair.
“It doesn’t take long to go through reserve money,” Grammer said. “You are going to have to keep up with that revenue to keep up regular maintenance.”
The board tabled the measure until next Tuesday meeting.
In other city business:
• The board voted to purchase 10 self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Winona Fire Department. The department received a grant for $24,600 from Rural Development, which will be sent as a reimbursement to the city. The board approved the use of fire rebate funds to purchase the equipment and will reimburse the fund when grant money is received.
• Winona Park Director Mike Narmour reported that fall football and soccer signups will be held today, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Winona Recreational Park; Tuesday, August 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Winona Recreational Park; and Wednesday, August 21 through Friday, August 23 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Winona City Hall. The football and soccer seasons will begin at the end of September.
• The new walking track around the Winona Recreational Park is expected to be completed by September 30, according to Mayor Jerry Flowers.
• The board accepted the resignation of Bryant Bell from the Winona Police Department.
• The board approved hiring Adolphus Knox as an officer with the Winona Police Department. Knox’s grandfather, Clarence Knox, retired from the Winona Police Department.
• According to Animal Control Officer Arlin Pearson, animal groups will be transporting homeless dogs from the Winona Animal Shelter up north to find them permanent homes. Pearson said those transports not only give the animals happy homes, but it saves the city money on food and medical expenses.
• The board approved the purchase of two five-ton furnaces from Acy’s Mechanical of Winona for the Winona Community Center on Powell Street.