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Ferriday garbage, water rates may rise

FERRIDAY — Garbage and water bill increases may be on the horizon for Ferriday residents.

Mayor Gene Allen proposed raising water rates by $6 per month and garbage rates by $10 per month Thursday at a special meeting.

Allen said the water increase would help the town pay for a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. Allen said it would take approximately 40 years for Ferriday’s 1,500 water customers to pay off the loan after the increase.

The loan will be used in conjunction with a $5 million USDA grant to overhaul the city’s water system.

“We can’t improve Ferriday and no one is going to move to Ferriday if we can’t get better water,” Allen said.

The overhaul includes switching the town’s water source from Old River to ground wells. Plans also include replacing non-functioning and outdated water meters and fixing broken pipes in the water distribution system.

Allen also proposed raising garbage rates by $10 to accommodate an additional pickup day.

He said the city currently collects $17,000 per month for garbage. Including an additional pickup day would raise the bill to $24,000 per month, he said.

“People have complained that they need another pickup day,” Allen said. “But we can’t pay a $24,000 bill with $17,000.”

Ferriday resident James Banks said taking more pride in the community could also remedy the town’s garbage problem.

“We can raise garbage rates, but the citizens in our community need to also take responsibility for their trash,” Banks said. “Some people just throw their garbage in the street.”

But some Ferriday residents at Thursday’s meeting were unhappy with the proposed increase.

Ferriday resident Johnny Nelson accused Allen of being a dictator and increasing rates excessively.

“The people built this town, not you,” Nelson said. “We hired you to protect this community. You have to give these people a chance to live.”

The Ferriday Board of Alderman will hold an official public hearing and vote on the increases at its Aug. 13 meeting.

The board also accepted a revised JCP Management contract for the town’s water.

The contract is a one-year extension that includes a decrease in the connection fee for residents, Allen said.

In the previous contract, new Ferriday residents were charged $102 to connect to the water system. In the newly approved contract, new connections will cost $50 each.

“I don’t think we even need to think about approving this,” Allen said. “This is obviously a good thing because it will save the residents of this town money.”