By Earl J. Fox Jr./Citizen
The Picayune Item
The price of natural gas charged to Picayune residents has concerned me for years. Three years ago I brought the subject up at a city council meeting and wrote two letters to the Editor of our Picayune Item. I’m still at a loss as to why we are paying more per thousand cubic feet than other communities and towns.
A front page article in one March edition of the Item reflected citizens concerns regarding high utility charges for customers heating their homes with natural gas. A city employee stated that the cost was $18.37 per thousand cubic feet. My gas usage for January was 12,500 cubic feet for which I was charged $224.50. In February I used 8,100 cubic feet and was charged $139,73.
I randomly selected three municipalities, who are or were (as is Picayune) members of MGAM — Municipal Gas Authority of Mississippi. Those cities are Olive Branch, Bay Springs and Pascagoula. I contacted the Utility Managers of all three communities by phone. I asked if they would send me the amount their towns would have billed had I lived there using my Picayune usage for the months of January and February. I deid not include the amount Picayune has charged me. I think you will find the responses interesting. Below is a chart with that information.
City/January Usage/Charge; February Usage, Charge
Picayune, January Usage (12500), Charge ($224,50); February Usage (8100), Charge ($139.73)
Olive Branch, January Usage (12500), Charge ($100.81); February Usage (8100), Charge ($66.92)
Bay Springs, January Usage (12500), Charge ($109.45); February Usage (8100), Charge ($72.84)
Pascagoula, January Usage (12500), Charge ($113.01); February Usage (8100), Charge ($82.63)
As you can see we were charged over a $100 in the month of January than other communities and roughly $70 more for the month of February. Why is this? We proclaim our town to be a retirement community, but how will elderly residents or anyone for that matter be able to afford high utility costs?
We need to learn how these other communities are charging less, or more importantly why is Picayune charging more? I’m fairly certain the money is not going towards repairs. Our infrastructure requires regular maintenance and perhaps it has been neglected in the past. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Picayune has so many meth labs when all you have to do is run down Goodyear Blvd. and get high off the natural gas leaks.
By the way, I invite other concerned citizens to contact those communities listed on my chart above; or for that matter any other town with natural gas customers. Use you Picayune gas consumption for any particular month and ask the utility department how much their town would have charged had you been a resident of their community. I’m willing to bet it would be a lot less than what you paid here. You might also want to ask your council member some of these questions.
Earl J. Fox Jr.