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Marion Council considers water rate increase

Marion City Council discussed potential increases in the city’s water rate at its Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting. Mayor Dexter Hinton presented the council with a proposal submitted to the city by U.S.D.A. Rural Water, which has worked closely with the city to address water system failures in recent years. The increased rates suggested by U.S.D.A. were intended to help support the city’s water system’s maintenance and repair going forward, said Mayor Hinton.

Hinton suggested the council set a work session to discuss the proposal in more detail.

City Clerk Laura Hinton noted that the council could also schedule a public hearing on the proposal to solicit the input of the public.

She said the suggested rate for residential customers would be $27.00 for the first 2000 gallons of water used. Sewer service would be billed at $10 per the first 2000 gallons.

“It goes up sixteen cents every 100 gallons,” over the minimum, said Mrs. Hinton. Sewer rates would increase at a rate of 25 cents every 100 gallons.

Councilmember Willie Jackson questioned if the city’s water customers would accept a rate increase, noting that many residents are low-income, and many have stopped drinking the city’s water.

“FoodValu has cut out a whole lane and put water in it.” he said. “That means that the people out there are getting less water through our lines…they’re buying it.”

Councilmember Jeff Nail said it was important that the city is transparent about where the money from any increase was going.

Mrs. Hinton said that several issues that had hampered water bill collections for the city in recent years had been corrected, and the city would be updating its books and taking steps to collect unpaid bills from the last year.