Hattiesburg sewer rates get a closer look

Hattiesburg sewer rates get a closer look

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg is taking a closer look at how its sewer customers are being billed, among other things.

The city's special projects accountant, Connie Everett, provided the council with a spreadsheet that showed eight outside utility companies were using Hattiesburg's sewer collection service for 1,227 customers. However, that document also showed that three of the companies had never been billed.

Hattiesburg's Director of Engineering, Lamar Rutland, told the city council Monday that the outside utility companies are reading their own meters and providing the city with documentation; thus, the honor system is being used.

"Just being horrified at the idea that bills were based upon somebody's guess and not a meter," said Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado. "This is not new."

In fact, Everett said it had been happening in some cases for as long as 10 years. According to the document, which can be found below, Lamar Park utility company signed a contract in 1997 and is current on their billing. However, it is unknown when West Lamar utility company began using the city's services, and they have not been billed. The document states "they are not willing to enter into an agreement with the City."

Rutland is working with Everett and others on drafting an ordinance that the city council would adopt in order to establish a uniform rate for sewer collection through the city.

Ward 5 Councilman Henry Naylor made an official request to Everett on March 25 for the accounting of the city's revenue from water and sewer billing, as well as copies of the agreements with the outside utility companies and any write-offs given by the city.

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree responded that same day and said Everett was a part-time employee, who was re-hired to work on the new ordinance, not the work Naylor requested. DuPree granted his approval for her to complete the requested tasks of Naylor once she completed her other duties.

Everett did not supply the requested information at Monday's meeting and said she was unaware the council expected the documents at that meeting, but she did e-mail the previously mentioned document to the clerk of council after Tuesday night's meeting.

The council tabled the ordinance and will bring it up at the next council meeting on May 19.

To see Councilman Henry Naylor's letter to accountant Connie Everett, click here.

To see the document listing outside utility companies from Connie Everett, click here.

To see Mayor Johnny DuPree's response to Naylor's request, click here.