Aldermen should approve rate increase

Published 12:58 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

Does anyone remember what a gallon of milk cost in 1994? How about the cost of a loaf of bread or a postage stamp?

No, we don’t remember the specifics either, but we’re nearly certain those commodities have generally increased in price in the past dozen years. But for Natchez Water Works customers, the cost of water has remained fixed across that span of time.

Unfortunately, that needs to change soon. You see, Natchez Water Works has a substantial leak, but it’s not water dripping from the utility; it’s cash.

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A couple months back, Natchez Water Works Director David Gardner presented a case for increasing water rates to the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

The board of aldermen must approve the increase before it goes into effect.

Gardner points to a trend that shows Natchez Water Works is spending more money than it brings in, a trend that doesn’t appear likely to improve anytime soon, unless something is done.

The figures show the Water Works is already out of compliance with state regulations, which require a small profit be made to fund emergency repairs and such.

Water Works has operated for a few years losing $1 million each year, kept afloat by its sizable reserves. Those won’t last much longer.

The City of Natchez needs to quickly sign off on the increase before the “well” of cash runs dry. The aldermen have ignored this issue for too long. It’s time to fix the leak.