By Caleb Bedillion
TUPELO – Fees to have residential water and power turned back on after normal business hours are going up for city residents.
Right now, the after-hours reconnect fee charged by Tupelo Water and Light is $40. But this week, the City Council approved an increase to $75. The increase is effective March 17.
Reconnection during normal business hours will remain $25. Other connection fees will also remain the same.
Speaking to the City Council on Tuesday, TWL Director Johnny Timmons said the $40 fee was simply not enough to cover the cost of the service.
Timmons said the employee and equipment costs associated with the work were greater than the previous after-hours reconnect fee resulting in a loss for the department.
TWL funds itself through revenue generated by utility charges. It receives no money from the city’s municipal budget.
Timmons said TWL remains an affordable utility company.
“Our rates in the city of Tupelo are some of the lowest in the Valley,” said Timmons, speaking of the Tennessee Valley Authority region. “We try to stay on top of these fees, but we were losing money.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Ward 4 Councilman Nettie Davis expressed concerns about the fee increase.
“These people are already having money problems,” Davis said, expressing fears that higher fees might be a hardship on already struggling residents.
Davis did vote for the increase, however, along with the rest of the council.
Under current TWL policies, utility service is cut off if payment is not received within 10 days of the monthly due date.
According to the schedule of rates posted by TWL, a disconnect/reconnect fee of $25 fee is assessed for reconnections that occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
After those hours and on weekends, $40 is currently charged. With the council’s approval, that will now go to $75.
According to its website, the Tombigbee Electric Power Association charges $50 to reconnect service after-hours. On weekdays, it begins charging after-hour rates at 3:30 p.m.
The Starkville Electric Department charges an after-hours reconnect fee of $40 as well as a $30 collection fee for all accounts that show up on the disconnect list.
Columbus Light and Water charges $50 for after-hours reconnection, according to its posted schedule of fees.