Residents in eastern Hernando who were formerly water customers of North Mississippi Utility Company and owe back sewer charge payments to the City of Hernando will soon be at risk of having their water service cutoff if they do not pay up.
The City of Hernando recently purchased waterlines which were part of the service system formerly owned and operated by North Mississippi Utility Company, which serves residents in largely eastern Hernando.
Some of those residents who reside in subdivisions like Edgewater, Edgewood and along Lambert Drive who elected not to pay sewer surcharges, and only paid for garbage service, will face having their water cut off following a grace period of 90 days, dating from the time certified letters are sent to those customers.
As City Attorney Kenneth Stockton explained, for some residents who ignored paying the sewer surcharge, there was no way in the past to force payment. Due to Environmental Protection Agency and Mississippi DEQ provisions, there was no recourse to recoup back payments by cutting off garbage or sewer service due to sanitary and practical issues.
Now that the City of Hernando has purchased the water lines, the city has recourse to demand payment or cut off services following action by aldermen Tuesday night.
The motion was made by Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller and seconded by Ward 1 Alderman E.R. "Sonny" Bryant.
"We've never had the ability to cut their service off," Stockton said, adding it's not fair to other residents who pay for both water and sewer service to have these residents arbitrarily opt to pay what amounts to less than the total amount of their bill.
In some cases, residents may owe hundreds of dollars in back payments and at least one resident is as much as $6,000 in arrears.
Residents have been sent sewer bills all along but arbitrarily chose not to pay it, according to Stockton.
"Residents did know they owed this and do know they owe this," Stockton said.
Residents must contact the city to make arrangements to pay back sewer payments by March 31 or face water service cutoff. For health and sanitary reasons, sewer service cannot be cut off.
According to Mayor Tom Ferguson the City of Hernando is owed between $60,000 and $80,000 in delinquent sewage service payments.
Ferguson said all affected customers will be sent a certified letter and will have 90 days to comply or face water service cutoff.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.