City to hike water rates, fees but not raise taxes

NATCHEZ — The city of Natchez may not be raising taxes, but an increase in water rates and inspection fees may be in residents’ futures.

In an effort to prevent a city-wide tax increase, The Natchez Democrat reports Mayor Butch Brown and the board of aldermen discussed both issues during a work session yesterday. Aldermen will take up the issue in their regular board meeting Sept. 24.

“If we don’t raise taxes to cover costs, we have to raise fees,” Brown said during the session.

On the table is a proposal to increase water rates an average of 5 percent for residents who exceed the minimum water usage set by the city. For users below that level rates will increase by $2 — $1 for sewage and $1 for water, Brown said.

Currently the minimum water usage is set at 300 cubic feet or 2,250 gallons per month. Under the current plan, aldermen are also considering reducing the minimum water usage to 250 cubic feet or 1,870 gallons per month.

“If we don’t raise fees, we are going to have a time making budget,” Brown said.

The last time aldermen approved a rate increase was in 2007 when rates increased an average of $6 per month for residents.

The mayor and aldermen agreed that they wanted to do everything they could not to hurt residents who cannot afford a rate increase and those who are on a fixed budget.

“The increase will not hurt the minimum user, Brown said. “We are not going to punish people for being poor.”

Also on the table is an increase in the permit fee for city inspections for renovations and new construction.

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