Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sewer bill signed
By SUE WATSON
A local and private bill, key to expansion of sewer service to a mobile home park located in the northwest corner of Marshall County, was signed into state law by Gov. Haley Barbour June 30, according to Sen. Bill Stone.
The bill, requested by the board of supervisors, was necessary as a means for the Marshall Utility Service to guarantee the collection of fees from residents after the system is laid, he said. Others in the local delegation - Rep. Jack Gadd, Rep. Tommy Woods and Rep. Kelvin Buck - helped supervisors get the bill before the Legislature this year as well, Stone said.
Under the provisions of the bill the lot owner is obligated to voluntarily accept the bill if it is not paid by a tenant as a condition to receive service at the residence, he said.
The bill makes the property owner ultimately responsible that the sewage is disposed of correctly, he said.
Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said the private Marshall Utility Service owns the utility while IDA manages it by standing committee as it does the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park and airport standing committees.
When built, an estimated 150 new customers in the area of the mobile home park and rental trailers at Highway 72 and Cayce Road will be able to sign up for free hookups if they sign up when the sewer is built. Property owners will pay about $25 a month for service and if a renter fails to pay, the utility can collect the delinquent bill from the lot owner as authorized by the local and private bill.
Stone said the bill provides protection for the property owner.
He said the bill provides protection for the property owner.
“The bill stipulates that the property owner must be the one to authorize connection to the service in order for it to be assessed on his taxes,” Stone said. “This is to protect owners of rental property from unknowingly becoming obligated for the debt.”
Under Mississippi Law, the property owner, not a tenant, is ultimately responsible for proper wastewater treatment.
“A property owner could opt to have his own, private on-site treatment system but would also be responsible for its maintenance,” Stone said. “I would imagine that most rental property owners will simply pay the bill and include it as part of the rent they collect.”
The Grove of Cayce, a private mobile home park, is already on the utility and the owner of the property pays for the sewer bill for all units in one check, Mobley said.
“So we believed it would probably work well with this expansion,” he said.
Lot owners do not have to get a sewer hookup and may lay their own septic tank, he said.
The board of supervisors has been working to get the sewer laid for years due to the stench and odor that sometimes pervades the area due to the obsolete sewer system that was built years ago when the trailer park was developed by the private sector.
It had become an embarrassment to supervisors and to the state long ago, according to one supervisor.
The sewer extension - expected to cost about $1.5 million - will be paid for with grant monies from the Community Development Block Grants, monies from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and with a loan from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mobley said. Engineering work is already underway and construction could begin this fall, he said.
Mobley explained that the local and private bill protects the county and the taxpayers from having to pick up the tab when renters fail to pay up.
“The county didn’t want to get left holding the bag like it has with the garbage pickup,” he said. “What the supervisors are doing is protecting the taxpayers so they don’t have to pick up the bill.”
With the garbage pickup, supervisors have had to guarantee the service provider they will be paid for collection when a householder is delinquent in paying a bill. Most of the delinquencies are recovered when the resident goes to purchase a car tag, but not all are recovered. What is not recovered in garbage fees ultimately is charged to the taxpayers
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