OXFORD – Customers of Bell Utilities will be served by the city of Oxford if plans approved this week are completed.
Aldermen authorized Mayor Pat Patterson to finalize the purchase of the privately owned sewer and water systems and their customer base for an offer of $2.3 million.
Bell Utilities serves some 1,200 water and sewer customers in several unincorporated parts of Lafayette County.
Oxford expects its Public Works Department to benefit from the purchase in the long run.
“I think it benefits the entire community, and it puts us where we need to be,” said Mayor Pat Patterson.
The city’s offer is contingent on getting approval for a rate increase from the Public Service Commission for all its utility customers who live more than one mile outside city limits. Rate increases within a mile of the city do not require PSC approval.
“If this doesn’t happen, we’re going to walk away,” Patterson said. “That’s where we stand on this.”
While current Oxford water and sewer customers outside the one-mile belt will pay perhaps $1 more per month, bills for typical Bell customers likely will drop, said Bart Robinson, the city’s director of public works.
“If you’re a Bell Utilities customer on water and sewer and you use what I suspect their average consumer uses, your bill is going to go down about $7 a month,” he said. “If you’re an excessive user, your bill potentially could go up.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal