Q When the city set up the water and sewer utility meters for a particular customer, the set-up was performed incorrectly, resulting in under billing. This customer has also had low pressure issues significant enough to question whether or not the customer actually received the benefit of the utility service. May the city negotiate a settlement of the under-billed utility usage fees for an amount less than its face value?

A A utility debt may not be forgiven or compromised if the claim is not doubtful and is owed, pursuant to Section 100 of the Mississippi Constitution. Whether the customer received the benefit of the utility service is a factual determination to be made by the municipal governing authorities and reflected in its minutes. Should the municipality determine that the customerís water quality so poor that the customer received minimal utility service, the municipality may negotiate the fees to an amount deemed consistent with the value of the service received. (Attorney Generalís Opinion to Moore, January 3, 2020)