WATER VALLEY – The board of aldermen will lower the water rate for industrial users if they adopt a proposed amendment in January to the Water Resources Management Ordinance.
The amendment would return the rates for the industrial classification to the level they were before the increase aldermen approved just nine months ago in March. The rates for residential and non-profit rural water associations are not included in the proposal and will remain at the higher level.
Phillip Tallant, plant manager for Water Valley Poultry, LLC, spoke before the city board at their regular meeting Dec. 2 asking for help with the poultry processing plant’s water bill that had more than doubled from March to April.
“We were doing pretty good until we started getting these increases,” Tallant said. “I am just here to ask for your help on this matter on behalf on Water Valley Poultry.”
The motion to amend the ordinance was made by Alderman Lance Clement following Tallant’s comments.
According to figures provided by city officials, the poultry processing plant used 11,324,000 gallons of water in April under the new rate at a cost of $15,860.70. Under the old rate in March, the company used 9,153,000 gallons at $6453.50.
Board Attorney David Burns said that the old rate was based on a descending scale. “The first 3000 gallons was $9.00 then for the next three it was a $1.50 per each additional 1000 gallons not to exceed 6000 then for the next 4000 gallon it went down to a $1.30 per thousand not to exceed 10,000.”
Burns continued, “The next 10,000 went down to $1.15 per thousand not to exceed 20,000 and so on and so forth down to ultimately anything over three million gallons was at 30 cents per gallon.”
“It cost more than 30 cents a thousand to pump it,” said Mayor Bill Norris.
Alderman Fred White agreed and added, “The old rates were fine in their day, but the cost of the wells were a lot different back then than they are now. If we have to replace a well now it is going to be a lot more.
“We need to think about that before we go and drop the rate,” White emphasized. “All that was taken into consideration when we did this water (rate) increase.”
Alderman Tommy Swearengen responded, “If that plant shuts down, you won’t have to worry about it would you?”
Alderman Sherry Martin asked Tallant how many people worked at the plant. “170,” he answered.
Discussion continued between the mayor, board members, and the city attorney. After several minutes Mayor Norris said, “I was looking at the cost. I think we need to do a little more research done on this.”
Attorney Burns then addressed Water and Sewer Department Manager Morris Surrette who was seated in the audience, “Correct me if I am wrong. The concern with the descending rates was that basically those who tax the system most ultimately ended up paying less.”
“Exactly,” Morris responded.
Alderman White repeated his earlier observation, “I think some more research needs to be done before we go back to the old rates.”
After additional discussion, the board voted to instruct Attorney Burns to prepare an amendment in writing that would return the industrial rates to the lower level. Alderman White cast the sole dissenting vote.