Mississippi city may be left in dark over unpaid power bill

Mississippi city may be left in dark over unpaid power bill
Vacant, unkept, boarded up and weather worn store fronts line a street in downtown Itta Bena, Miss., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Area residents believe the high price of electricity provided by the city as one of the reasons for store closures. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Source: Rogelio V. Solis)

ITTA BENA, Miss. (AP) — The lights may go out for all 1,800 residents in Itta Bena, Mississippi.

It’s a small impoverished city in the Mississippi Delta.

Because of long-standing debt with its wholesale electrical provider, the city faces complete disconnection Dec. 1.

As of August, Itta Bena owed more than $800,000.

The news is devastating for the community, where 40% of people live below the poverty line and 90% are Black.

Itta Bena has long struggled with a decreasing tax base, white flight and job loss Local business owner Patricia Young says residents can’t take the hurt anymore. She said: “You start to wonder, ‘Do they really want us to survive?’”

Birdia Williams turns on her ceiling fan onThursday, Oct. 22, 2020, to help cool the house she and her husband John Williams, 23 years ago in Itta Bena, Miss., home a few blocks from what was then a busy downtown. Now, the couple, living on a fix income as retirees, constantly worry on how to budget to compensate for what they believe are high electric bills from the city-run and owned utility. Because of a long standing debt with the wholesale electrical provider, the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi, the city is facing complete disconnection on Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Birdia Williams turns on her ceiling fan onThursday, Oct. 22, 2020, to help cool the house she and her husband John Williams, 23 years ago in Itta Bena, Miss., home a few blocks from what was then a busy downtown. Now, the couple, living on a fix income as retirees, constantly worry on how to budget to compensate for what they believe are high electric bills from the city-run and owned utility. Because of a long standing debt with the wholesale electrical provider, the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi, the city is facing complete disconnection on Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Source: Rogelio V. Solis)