Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas told a meeting of the Council of Governments Monday that bonds issued for water improvement require the city to maintain 110% of the cost of operating the system. He said the extra 10% is a reserve fund for improvements and repairs.
There is another factor, according to Thomas: the federal government.
"There are some federal regulations that came in this year that mandate that we must collect a certain amount of money," Thomas said. "We must do a certain amount of repair work that, by federal mandate, if you don't do that, you pay some fines. Like I mentioned, the city of Mobile is facing a $25 million fine because they did not keep up with these mandates."
Councilwoman Marry Perry of Ward 2 said she doesn't want that to happen here.
"Meridian has a requirement through bonds and those regulations to maintain their system and one of the things that has been put in place is that we are doing things to try to keep Meridian from having the fines and then having a judge say 'you must charge your people this amount of money," which is an extraordinary amount above what we are now charging," said Perry. "So to keep Meridian from having that happen the water system, the water department had that 10 percent increase."
The money from the increase does not go into the general fund but remains within the water and sewer budget.