DH leaders ask POA, water and sewer district to adjust their fees
By Dwayne Bremer
Apr 2, 2013, 16:39
Diamondhead leaders have asked officials at the Property Owners Association and the Diamondhead Water and Sewer District to re-evaluate their fees for certain services.
Mayor Chuck Ingraham told the city council at a work session Thursday that he delivered a letter to the POA last month and is sending a similar letter to the water and sewer district.
The letters were spread on the minutes of Monday's city council meeting.
"The city of Diamondhead is striving to encourage new residential and commercial construction every day," Ingraham said in his letter.
"Each new development supports our city by strengthening our revenues and reducing the burden on us all to fund essential services.
“Remarks regarding our building permit fee structure have been received, discussed by the council and we are responding by examining our fee structure to ensure they reflect equity to the builder and support the cost of providing the departmental services without burdening the tax payers. With like remarks regarding the water and sewer district's fee structure, the city requests the district examine its fees charged to customers for initial service and connection to the water and sewer lines."
The high cost of building in Diamondhead has been a hot topic lately.
Some have complained that the costs to build in the city are too high.
Public outcry and speculation over motives for the high rates caused building official Bill Carrigee to terminate his contract with the city last week.
Ingraham said the POA is still charging people up to $1,500 for plan reviews.
Those fees are in addition to building fees the city charges.
The water and sewer district is also charging high initial tap fees, officials said.
"We have not gotten a clear look at their fee structure," Ingraham said. "Every time we turn around, we have builders saying they cannot open a business because the fees are outrageous. We have to be able to tackle this issue because we don't want high legal costs."
Councilman Ernie Knobloch said he recently spoke to two people who were quoted a $3,200 price for initial hook-up to the water and sewer system.
"Neither of them decided to build in Diamondhead," he said.
The water and sewer district is an autonomous entity which controls a certificated area in Diamondhead.
Its members are appointed by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors; however, once they are appointed, supervisors have no oversight over the district's actions.
Furthermore, the district selects the members it wants appointed and sends supervisors recommendations on who to appoint.
Supervisors generally accept the recommendations and appoint members the district approves.
Councilman Dianne Ackerman said she would like to see the justification for the water and sewer district's fees.
Ingraham said the city council is not accusing the water and sewer district and POA of any wrongdoing; however, he would like to see more transparency.
"We are just trying to make sure every entity is in line with what is needed," he said.
Other business discussed at Monday's meeting included:
*City Manager Richard Rose announced that 18 wild hogs have been trapped inside the city limits in the past six weeks. Rose said three trappers have set up traps at several locations, including five traps on the south side. Ingraham said people who come into contact with a wild hog should report it to authorities and not try to capture the hog themselves.
*Rose also announced that paving for the road leading to Rouses Market should begin next week.
*Councilman Hank Holcomb announced that Diamondhead has officially been named a destination for this year's Cruisin' the Coast.
Holcomb said the city will host a "Blessing of the Cars" event on the first Wednesday of this year's Cruisin'.
Holcomb said Cruisin' is a great opportunity for people to visit the city and its businesses.
"We are hoping that this will be the beginning of an expanded venue," he said.
*Holcomb also announced that the city is supporting a project from the Corps of Engineers to clear materials blocking creeks and waterways in the Devil's Elbow area.
*City Attorney Bragg Williams briefed the council on the laws concerning golf carts in the city. Williams said the current laws will expire after three years.
Councilman Ron Rech said there are currently 536 golf carts registered with the city and state. He encouraged anyone who has yet to register their cart to do so.
*The next city council meeting will be held on April 18. A work session is scheduled for April 15. Ingraham encouraged all members of the public to attend the meetings.