Q May a municipality create a separate class of water customers for charitable and non-profit organizations currently classified as “commercial” but use much less water than traditional commercial ventures?

A Yes, a municipality may create the proposed classification provided the municipal governing authorities make the determination, consistent with fact, that the creation of such classification does not result in discrimination among similarly situated users for the same type of service. Prior Attorney General’s Opinions recognize that there are proper grounds for creating different classifications of users which have a reasonable basis and rational relationship to accomplishment of a public polic objective. A municipality may, for example, establish different rates for industrial, commercial and residential customers, and special uses, such as swimming pools. The Mississippi Supreme court in State, ex rel Pittman v. Mississippi Public Service Commission, 538 So.2d 387 (Miss. 1989) said, “ the reasonableness of public utility rates is not determined by definite rules and legal formulas, but is a fact question requiring the exercise of sound discretion and independent judgment in each case.” (Attorney General’s Opinion to Danos, January 6, 2017)