Outside company may help Hattiesburg bill accurately for water

Outside company may help Hattiesburg bill accurately for water

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg is considering hiring an independent contractor to help the city be sure it's billing accurately for water, wastewater and and solid waste services.

"Water Company of America is going to come in and look to see where we are not charging now on water that's being utilized by, say, a business or a developer," said Carter Carroll, Hattiesburg Ward 3 Councilperson. "They will help us collect those fees or start charging for those fees."

Carroll said Water Company of America has worked with cities like Gulfport and Biloxi to be sure they're getting all of the money they should be from people and businesses using city water.

"It could be that we are not billing something, and they will find that out," Carroll said. "They have the resources to find that out, where we don't have the capabilities of doing that on a day to day basis."

He said Hattiesburg would do its own preliminary study to find obvious problems, and if the council approves the contract, the company would come start its study in about six months.

Carroll said there are two reasons the city wants to bring in this company, and both will hopefully help keep water rates low for customers.

"More revenue for us and trying to keep our costs down," he said. "It will increase our collections, so once we do that, obviously, it will help keep our costs down. So the city will come out ahead because we will now start collecting on fees that we are not getting now. Hopefully, that will reduce or keep us from having to raise rates as high as they may have to go."

He said the company's contract is a fee-for-service contract.

"The will get a percentage of what they collect,"Carroll said. "They will bill accordingly as to what they collect, and they will get a percentage of that only for 18 months. After that, we'll (Hattiesburg) will get 100 percent of the revenue."

The council is scheduled to vote on the contract at its meeting Tuesday, June 21.