Jackson mayor discusses new water bill assistance program

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba hosted a news conference on Monday, July 12 to discuss several city issues and initiatives.

The mayor said the city is working to correct their water billing process and announced assistance programs to help neighbors pay their bills.

Vincent Williams said the city’s current water billing system is confusing and needs to be corrected.

“Everybody’s fixing on something, but nothing is getting done,” he said.

However on Monday, the mayor announced the launch of a pilot program kicking off the week of July 19, 2021.

“There have been failures to take place, not just in our community, but the city takes ownership for it’s failed process in the past and wants to move forward,” said Lumumba.

Beginning the week of July 19, two payment plans will be implemented and Water Sewer Business Administration (WSBA) will be announcing expanded hours to accommodate more customers.

1.       Low-Income Assistance Plan (LIAP) – Available for any water/sewage arrearage for 24 months

  • Must show proof of participation in the MS Home Corp Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program
  • Must pay current bill for three months
  • Must apply for any federal or state utility aid programs
  • Must pay current bill plus $10 for 24 months

2.       Courtesy Payment Arrangement Plan (CoPAP) for those customers who do not qualify as low-income.

  • Available for customers with a 1-inch meters or less
  • Must pay the current bill for three months
  • Must apply for federal and state utility aid programs
  • Must pay 40% over 24 months

3.       Additionally, there will be a Special Circumstances Panel for those experiencing extreme financial hardship. Special circumstances may include, but are not limited to:

  • Instances of error
  • Equipment failure
  • Debt deemed uncollectable
  • Unforeseen damage due to weather

4.       And, a Stranded Bills-Flat Rate is being established for those who know they have a balance, but have not recently received a bill. WSBA can put customers on a flat rate so that payments may begin in order to enter the program.

There will be an event July 23-24 at the Mississippi Trademart to help neighbors pay for rent, utilities, water and sewer. The city will continue water cutoffs on September 1, 2021.

The mayor also said city leaders are looking at how some federal money could help with the crime crisis. He said there are several programs they’re discussing to get to the root of crime and why it happens.

The money cannot be used to increase officers’ salaries because it’s one time money, but leaders plan to partner with Hinds County on a program.

“One payment we’re looking to provide is to join in with Hinds County for a Returning Citizens program to make certain that we are setting the stage for individuals who are returning into society who have had engagement of some sort with crime,” said Lumumba.

The mayor said leaders are looking at other ways to support public safety officials and also called in temporary staff to help with shortages.

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