At their July 2 regular meeting, Pontotoc Aldermen approved the first water rate increase in almost eight years. 

Pontotoc Water Dept. Superintendent Tim Roberts told aldermen the increase is necessary to get the water department operation out of the red financially.

"We haven't had a water rate increase since September 2011 and the past two years we've lost money," Roberts said. "This increase is necessary to continue to pump and treat water for our customers. The cost of maintenance and materials have increased over the past eight years."

"And our rates will still be cheaper in comparison with other water systems operating in North MS," he said. "Water is the cheapest bill that you pay."

The rate for residential water service inside the city limits will increase from $12 to $14 for the first 2,000 gallons and will increase from $2.50 to $3.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons. 

The rate for residential water outside the city limits will increase from $13 to $15 for the first 2,000 gallons and from $2.75 to $3.75 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

Commercial and industrial rates inside the city limits will increase from $15 to $17 for the first 2,000 gallons and from $3.00 to $4.00 for each additional 1,000 gallons. 

The same rate increase will apply for commercial and industrial customers outside the city limits. 

In another matter, Pontotoc businessman Alan Simmons asked for the city to help repair an 11-foot deep sink hole located on state highway dept. right-of-way in front of his storage building business on Highway 15 Bypass. 

The sink hole is approximately 20 feet in width.

"The sink hole began sinking and caving in after a fiber optic cable was bored through the ground above the storm water drain," Simmons said. 

Simmons said that the optic cable company has denied responsibility. 

Simmons said Highway Commissisoner Mike Taggert had indicated that the highway department would consider splitting the cost of the repair with the city.

The board directed Mayor Bob Peeples to contact Commissioner Taggert and see what costs would be involved in repairing the massive sink hole. 

"Normally, by state law enacted by the legislature, the highway department only repairs from curb to curb, even though their right-of-way extends further," Peeples told the board. "But I will call the commissioner and see what he says about the situation."

He added that if a permit and state engineering specifications approval is required, the repair project would be costly.

In another matter, aldermen unanimously approved a motion to begin renting the new train shed pavilion located at First Choice Bank Gateway in downtown Pontotoc. 

Aldermen set the daily rental at $200 per day and a $100 refundable deposit will be required. 

Aldermen said Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce/ Main Street Director Ellen Russell will be in charge of booking the pavilion. 

In other business, aldermen set a public hearing on August 6 for property cleanup needed at 118 North College Street in Pontotoc. 

Aldermen also approved the allocation of $1,000 in tourism funds for the Chamber of Commerce to be used for August's Senior Citizen Day at the Fair event. 

Aldermen also set an August 6 public hearing for a request to rezone property at 349 Arrington Road from C1 to R8 where the new property owners wish to build a home. 

Consent agenda items approved included:

-authorize paying June 2019 umpires and scorekeepers in the amount of $6,022.00;

-authorize Natural Gas rates to be effective July 1, 2019, at a rate of $7.19, which is based on an O&M of $4.00 and a PGA of $3.19. 

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