Branch Heights residents looking for answers to high water bills

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

EUTAW-Rising water bills in the Branch Heights area have caused some concerns among residents and council members. When the area was annexed by the City of Eutaw the plan had been to phase them into the billing system. However, some rates have climbed higher than expected.

Eutaw City Councilman Joe Powell asked the council to review the contract for Branch Heights once more. Powell said there seemed to be a glitch in the system that had caused water bills in the area to soar.

“When we voted on an agreement we said that we would pay the rates for Branch Heights over a period of years, not all at once,” Powell said. “We were supposed to phase them in gradually over three years.”

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Powell said rather than easing into the system it has come all at once.

“We have already put the whole thing on there,” Powell said. “But the agreement we voted on said the City of Eutaw would give them time.”

When the council voted the contract in they had agreed to a three-year period. Powell said this had not been the case and now bills had climbed to well over $50.

“We accepted the agreement and we said over a three year period,” Powell said. “That is what we accepted. No we have people with $70 and $80 water bills.”

Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele said this should not be the case. He said they had discussed the issue and agreed there should be a flat rate throughout the city of Eutaw.

“I am 100 percent sure that we had discussed that there would be one water rate for all the citizens of Eutaw,” Steele said. “That is what we voted on.”

Another concern for the residents of Branch Heights was the upcoming late fee date. On the 20th of every month a penalty is levied for late water bills. Powell said they had been holding out on their bills to see if there was indeed a problem with the system. He said they were hoping for quick answers to avoid being penalized.

“After the 20th there will be a $5 late fee charged,” Powell said. “We are holding out on our water bills because this is not what we voted on.”

Mayor Steele said he would pull the records and review the contract to make sure everything was running according to plan.