Mayor Lumumba gives update on legislation to help with water bills

The Mayor also discusses contract with consultants to restructure Public Works Department
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 11:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The City of Jackson is paying a consulting firm $244,000 to help restructure the Public Works Department. Mayor Lumumba says the city should have a department that is better aligned to meet the needs of citizens.

Mayor Lumumba said, “When we really look at the Public Works Department, it touches residents in a way that no other department does. It is your Public Works Department that you depend on water from and water in every regard.

“Whether it is drinking water, storm water. We had a 30 year flood and so we’ve been impacted by storm water and waste water which we know that the many issues that the city has had in terms of addressing its failing infrastructure and its sewer system, it’s aged infrastructure.”

The Mayor says a plan to restructure Public Works is long overdue, and it is something Public Works Director Dr. Charles Williams asked for.

“The last time that it was restructured was back in 2003,” Mayor Lumumba said.

Lumumba adds the $244,000 is an investment to make necessary and critical changes.

“It’s being done by a local firm of people who have been in the position of Public Works before. Two individuals that have been Public Works directors before,” the mayor said.

During the last legislative session a measure that would have allowed cities, including Jackson, more flexibility when it comes to water billing... allowing for payment plans in legitimate cases of high bills and forgiveness in others passed unanimously with bipartisan support.

It was later vetoed by Governor Tate Reeves. Mayor Lumumba says the measure has been presented again this session.

“This is not simply a Jackson matter, right? This isn’t just a matter of the challenges that Jackson residents have experienced. There are several municipalities across the state who the story of their challenges with their water billing system have not been as well chronicled as Jackson’s has,” said Mayor Lumumba.

The Mayor says he has heard the pleas from Jackson residents struggling with high water bills and something must be done to give them help.

Mayor Lumumba said, “As we repair that system, it’s more than just developing a system of reliability that our residents depend on; that they can depend on getting a regular bill every single month from. We have to restore the credibility of the water service of the City of Jackson and part of that is understanding and recognizing the challenges that our residents have experienced.”

Mayor Lumumba says people have to understand that the city by state law can’t forgive water bills. He tells us his administration has been working on the legislation to get relief to Jackson water customers for over two years.

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