Jackson water users face 13 percent rate increase Jan. 1, 2024

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Interim Third Party Manager Ted Henifin (Advocate photo: Joshua Martin)

Only SNAP recipients will see a reduction in monthly bills under new plan

The federally mandated JXN Water Corporation in charge of Jackson’s water and sewer system announced new water rate increases earlier this month. The increases average 13 percent but will also allow a reduction to low income households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beginning January 1, 2024. About 12,500 Jackson households receiving SNAP benefits will see a 69-cents-a-day decrease on average.

JXN Water was incorporated by Interim Third Party Manager Ted Henifin in November 2022 after an agreement between the City of Jackson, the State of Mississippi, and the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) brought an end to the city’s water crisis that had been growing since 2013 and crashed completely in August 2022. Financed in part under a federal omnibus bill, JXN Water operates independently of the mayor and city council although its mandate requires regular consultation with the city’s public works director. 

Most of the 55,000-plus residential and commercial JXN Water customers will face an increase of 13 percent or more in their overall bill, or an average 30-cents-a-day increase. For the average single-family household that will be an increase of about $10 per month.

Interim Third Party Manager Ted Henifin says his management group is determined to avoid hurting the poor with the new water rate hikes. Currently, many households in Jackson are unable to pay their monthly bills. Compassion and consideration for these households required modification of the rate structures, he said. 

“If the bill is not affordable, we’ll get back into the same spiral we were in before where people just can’t pay their bill, we shut them off, they work around it,” Henifin said. “It creates a real stress on the community.”

At a town hall meeting in July, Henifin said, “There are about 7,000 people who don’t have accounts but are still using our water so we are going to find them, get accounts set up for them, and we are going to get them to start paying their bill.”

New fees for connecting to and remaining with the city’s water system were also announced by JXN Water.

A new connection costs $50 for the new service fee and a $100 new service deposit. Returned check fees are $20 for the first returned check, and $40 for additional returned checks. Service restoration for nonpayment is $100. And the penalty for tampering with the water meters is $500, with possible jail time.

At the beginning of next year, Henifin said, JXN Water will begin shutting off water service for people not paying their bills.

The proposed rate hikes were presented to the Jackson City Council earlier this month for approval. The council gave a pro-forma approval of the increases, and the rates are set to begin on Jan. 1, 2024. 

Single-family households with small meters that use up to 748 gallons of tap water a day would see their bill increase by about 30 cents daily.

Customers with larger meters (i.e., commercial, multi-family, and industrial) will see a daily increase ranging from 71 cents to as much as $89 for industrial sized six-inch meters. 

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Jackson water users face 13 percent rate increase Jan. 1, 2024

By Earnest McBride
December 4, 2023