Jackson mayor walks back water bill claims; Gov. Reeves responds

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba traces back to statements he made because state properties in Jackson did not pay for water.

Lumumba spoke out to the New York Times and in at least one on-site press conference amid the city’s water crisis to show that the city is not getting its fair share of its revenue from the state.

Lumumba said he sent a notice to the Times after an unnamed official in his administration pointed out the mistake. The correction came about a week after the March 12 article was published, according to the Times.

Lumumba first told the newspaper that the city “supplies water for the state of Mississippi, but we are not paid for the water we provide them. If we were to just burden the state like any other customer, we would be in a much better position. “

When asked for clarification on Monday, the mayor’s office released a statement.

“It struck me that I was speaking wrong about the state of Mississippi, which pays for water in the city of Jackson,” Lumumba said. “The state actually pays for its water. I am corrected. “

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The correction comes after reports surfaced showing that state owned properties are actually paying their water bills and have been for years.

Jackson Jambalaya first launched the news, and through record public inquiries, revealed that several properties – including the Capitol Complex, the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, PERS, and the Department of Health – paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in water bills this fiscal year alone.

The comments have sparked their own controversy between Mayor and Governor Tate Reeves. When asked on Monday, Reeves beat up the mayor over the claims.

“Either it was an outright lie or he was misinformed about what the state was paying,” Reeves said. “To the best of my knowledge, the state has spent well over half a million dollars on water alone.”

Reeves also pointed out the city’s problems with its water billing system, where thousands of water customers are still billed. This has resulted in the city generating millions in revenue each year.

The Clarion ledger has also filed requests for public records for billing information on government real estate. It is also checked whether these properties pay property taxes. Lumumba – in his correction – said the state does not pay taxes or make a payment in lieu of taxes. It doesn’t pay off for the police and fire brigade either, he said.

The fix comes as Lumumba and other city officials seek $ 47 million from the state to repair its defective infrastructure. Consecutive days of freezing temperatures resulted in a historic shutdown of water treatment plants, leading to widespread water shortages and failures, and a citywide notification of boiling water that lasted nearly a month.

“That’s one of the unfortunate things when we’re in a crisis with Jackson’s water system,” Reeves continued. “There are enough challenges where we all have to work together so that no one has to go out and lie and make it seem worse than it really is.”

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Contact Justin Vicory at 769-572-1418 or [email protected]. Follow @justinvicory on Twitter.

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