December 6, 2022
During their meeting Tuesday, Starkville’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved a water rate adjustment that will help generate revenues for capital improvement projects and ensure Starkville’s water and sewer infrastructure is well prepared for the future.
The adjustment will raise monthly water and sewer bills for most customers by $3 to $5 while generating an additional $1 million annually to fund capital improvements. It also will help cover rising costs related to routine operations, including labor, materials and chemicals used in treatment processes for Starkville’s drinking water and wastewater. The adjustment will take effect in February 2023.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years on our capital improvement plan, and ongoing investments are vital to support Starkville’s growth,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “At the same time, our routine operating costs have risen, in some cases significantly. We are being proactive in evaluating our rates to ensure our systems operating safely and reliably while setting the stage for needed improvements.”
“There is a continual need to upgrade and maintain Starkville’s water system,” said Dr. Jason Barrett, faculty member of Mississippi State University’s Water Resources Research Institute. “The community has grown significantly in recent years, with more growth on the way. This is the time to be investing and investing correctly.”
Representatives from the Water Resources Research Institute presented a rate evaluation study to city leaders during their board work session on Dec. 2 that included a comparison of Starkville’s existing rates with peer communities and surrounding water associations.
Based on the study’s findings, city leaders approved an individual base rate adjustment from $4.50 to $6.00 for water and sewer and a variable rate adjustment of $4.15 to $4.50 per 1,000 gallons of water. Of the more than $1 million generated annually, approximately $750,000 will be reinvested into the system to fund capital projects and the remainder will be used to cover rising operation and maintenance costs.
Before developing the next phase of capital improvements, Starkville Utilities must perform a comprehensive evaluation of current systems to identify equipment, facilities and technologies that should be upgraded or replaced. The rate adjustment will ensure that resources are available to complete the evaluation.
“Our capital improvement plan is a map into the future, and we want to make sure it’s based on the most accurate information available,” Kemp said. “The evaluation will allow us to develop a prioritized list of improvements to serve the community’s growth over the next 10 to 20 years.”
In 2020, the board of aldermen approved a similar rate adjustment to generate revenues for water and sewer projects, including infrastructure upgrades in Green Oaks and Rolling Hills, the conversion to more sustainable dewatering technology in the wastewater treatment plant, and completion of the North Montgomery water main replacement and sidewalk renovation.
Starkville Utilities has completed projects on schedule and on budget, with noticeable improvements to customers’ water and sewer services. Even with recent increases, Kemp pointed out that Starkville Utilities customers have some of the lowest water and sewer rates in Mississippi when compared to similarly sized municipalities.
“We launched our Future FOCUS initiative to make sure customers are served with safe, reliable, affordable utilities now and for years to come,” Kemp said. “Taking a proactive approach to address aging infrastructure has helped us control costs and keep Starkville’s water and wastewater systems performing at optimal levels.”
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.