City continuing to review water rate proposals

Members of the Biloxi City Council have asked Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich for alternative proposals for increasing water and sewer rates, which could mean increases for all Biloxi residents and businesses, instead of only the high-end users under the administration’s proposal.

“It’s still early in the process,” Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols said, “and we understand the City Council’s desire to look at all possibilities. The main issue is that we are required to charge rates that cover the costs of operating our water and sewer services. Our Water and Sewer Fund must pay for itself, rather than be subsidized by the general fund. There are different ways to increase those revenues to meet that obligation, and the mayor proposed to raise the fees of high-end users because it costs us more to service them. At the council’s request, we are developing alternatives that could result in rate increases across the board. That is to be determined.”

The rate adjustments are being prompted by the need to generate the $17.3 million annual expense of providing water and sewer service to Biloxi residents and businesses.

The city for years has subsidized the water department to keep rates low, but state law requires the W&S Fund to be self-sufficient. Mayor Gilich last week proposed increasing rates for the 11 percent of city’s 14,000 water customers,  which is the number of customers who use 8,000 or more gallons of water a month. Even with the proposed increase, Biloxi still has the lowest rate structure on the Coast.

“We still like the mayor’s idea,” Nichols said. “Of course, we’re open-minded about other possibilities.

“The fact is, we have to generate more money, and rates will have to be adjusted. It’s a matter of how many customers and how much they will be impacted.”
Read background on the issue


Mayor names Billy Ray Allen as acting public works director

Billy Ray Allen, who has worked in the city’s Public Works Department for more than 40 years, has been named acting director of the department.


Acting Public Works Director Billy Ray Allen

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich made the announcement today. Dan Gaillet submitted his resignation last week to spend more time with a son who is recovering from a catastrophic automobile accident.

Allen, 62, began working in the Public Works Department in 1975 and except for a brief hiatus with private water contractor ECO Resources has worked continually for the city. In 2003, he was named the department’s utility construction manager.

“Billy Ray has a wealth of institutional knowledge of the Public Works Department and the city in general,” said Gilich. “I have complete confidence in his ability as we look to name a permanent Public Works Director.”

Gilich also has to find a permanent leader of the city’s Engineering Division, where engineer Christy LeBatard has worked as acting engineer.

Said the mayor: ‘We have a number of challenges in the area of streets and drainage, and we’re working to make sure we have the appropriate leadership in place.”


News and notes

Three Forks efforts: More than $1,300 has been raised for Biloxi firefighters relief trip to the tornado-ravaged Three Forks community, and Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney reports that more than $600 of the donations have been received through the fire museum’s Go Fund Me account. For background on the trip and to see how you ca n donate, click here.

The week that was: Just how busy were the Biloxi Fire and Police departments last week? You can see the numbers and types of incidents for the week of Jan. 4 to 10 in the Weekly Reports (sorry, still no report from the Community Development Department). To see the Weekly Reports archive, click here.