Water Collections Up
Jackson is slowly but surely making progress in addressing its water and sewer billing issues, as evidenced by increased collections in the water/sewer billing department.
Through February 28, the city has collected nearly $22.2 million, or 83.1 percent of total billed amounts.
By comparison, Jackson collected $19.1 million for the same period last year, or roughly 75.2 percent of billed amounts.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is pleased with the progress, but said the city has to remain vigilant to prevent problems from popping up.
“We have to stay focused on the concern of stranded bills,” he said. “When you have two consecutive estimated bills in our system, the third time, the system won’t send out the bill.”
Last year, the city reported that some 23,000 water customers were not receiving bills as a result of stranded accounts. The majority of those accounts were fixed between May and October of 2018.
The problems arose after a new billing system was installed as part of the city’s contract with Siemens.
The firm was hired in 2012 to completely overhaul Jackson’s water system. Jackson brought the firm back on last spring to help address the billing problem and was able to correct about 21,000 accounts.
Since then, public works has ramped up its collection efforts and is sending out on average about 200 shut-off notices to customers each day.
“Those aren’t necessarily 200 shutoffs, but notices saying they’ll be shut off,” Public Works Director Robert Miller said. After receiving the notice, Miller said customers typically call in to get set up on payment plans or pay the past due amounts in full.
The effort seems to be paying off. In February, the city reported a 98 percent collection rate on billings.
Miller believes collections will increase to more than 100 percent soon, as customers make their regular monthly payments and continue to pay off past due amounts.
Residents Appeal Ruling
Opponents of the Ridgeland Costco are again going to the state’s highest court in hopes of stopping the store from coming to Highland Colony Parkway.
Last week, an attorney for six Ridgeland residents filed a notice of appeal of the Madison County Circuit Court’s decision with the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The decision comes weeks after the circuit court ruled that developers could move forward with building a gas station on acreage across from the main Costco development.
At the heart of the matter is whether the gas station should be allowed at the site.
Last June, the Ridgeland mayor and board of aldermen approved plans to put the filling station there, after earlier blocking plans by another developer to put a storage facility there.
The site is located on the west side of Highland Colony, south of the Old Agency Road roundabout, opposite the site where the wholesaler is being built.
Opponents said the decision should be vacated, saying the city blocked the storage facility specifically to allow the gas station to go there. The group also argued that the decision should be made null and void because two aldermen voting on the matter had a conflict of interest.
The station would be owned and operated by Costco. Previously, the wholesaler had hoped to put the gas station on the same property as the store, but those plans got struck down by the Supreme Court.
Those filing the appeal include Gerald Beard, Charles Michel, Harold Byrd, Nils Mungan, George Shepard and William Aden.