Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley approved the monthly $3.25 rate increase on Tuesday during a hearing in Corinth.
“The Town of Rienzi applied to us for an increase on their water rates to be able to meet normal operations, and of course the evidence showed overwhelmingly that this is a need the city had,” said Presley. “Customers should see the increase with the June billing cycle.”
The town currently has a loss of more than $4,000 based on current water service operations. Mayor Walter Williams said he hopes the town can get back to the break even point with the increase.
“This will get us back on track where we can operate more smoothly,” he added. “They are no other options, so we have to increase the rate to move forward.”
Williams said it will also put all 333 households effected by the increase on the same paying level.
Currently water service customers inside the town limits and up to one mile outside the town limits pay $14 per month. Customers outside one mile of the town limits are paying $13 per month. With the rate increase, all customers will pay $16.25.
“It wasn’t really fair for town and county customers to be paying a different rate,” said Williams. “This will put everyone on the same playing field.”
Presley also addressed the town’s need for a reserve fund for maintenance and repairs associated with the water system.
There are currently no extra funds on hand. The town’s engineer has recommended approximately $40,000 be set aside for future repairs. No funds from the rate increase will go to the repair reserve.
“I would like a placeholder be put into the documents for this hearing to come back later and talk about creating a reserve,” said Presley. “It would need to be a line item strictly for infrastructure and repairs of the system.”