Thursday, March 24, 2011
Supervisors debate sewer funding
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution recently requesting the Mississippi Legislature pass a $1.1 million bond bill to build the Cayce Road/Highway 72 sewer. The county will also work on a back-up plan for funding through Rural Development.
The county has about $900,000 in funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission and a Community Development Block Grant.
The project has been on the cutting board for several years but no progress has been made because state funding was pulled on a portion of the project and spent on other more pressing projects. Supervisors are reticent to borrow money to build the sewer system because residents’ sewer bills would be exorbitant.
If the bond bill is not passed by the Legislature, the county may be able to get 75 percent of the money for the project through USDA-Rural Development. But the costs of the remaining 25 percent would be paid either by the customers or by county taxpayers.
Supervisors said they do not want all county taxpayers to have to pay for a sewer system for just one area – and the bill would be too high for the customers in the area – mostly tenants in two adjacent mobile home parks.
Marshall County IDA director Bill Mobley said customers will be charged $25 a month just for the treatment of the household sewage.
Supervisor Keith Taylor believes $25 a month is about tops for what residents can afford to pay.
IDA and Marshall County Utilities would be responsible for collecting for the sewer.
Mobley said amortization to pay off the system, if money is borrowed, could run customers another $15 per household.
“I am not going to vote for a $50 a month sewer bill,” Taylor said.
He argued that the State of Mississippi mandated the sewer be built and to tack a $40 to $50 a month sewer bill on top of the household garbage bill is too much.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett argued that the Environmental Protection Agency should have brought forth some federal dollars for the project. Taylor and Bennett worried the county could be liable for the construction cost in the end.
Supervisor George Zinn III said IDA could benefit from future revenue if it were involved in servicing the debt.
“Future revenue would be a long way off,” Mobley warned.
Several industrial and distribution companies were attracted to the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park because of the sewer, Mobley said. The sewer would be extended to the trailer parks, said Kent Smith, county attorney. He said the board room could be packed every Monday if something is not done about it.
“It ought to be packed now,” Mobley quipped.
Smith said IDA has no financial obligation to the sewer project and therefore the county has no financial obligation.
“Except if the county is responsible for grants and loans,” said Zinn.
A survey of residents initially indicated nearly all residents of the two trailer parks wanted the sewer service and a more recent survey in December last year indicated they still are interested, Mobley said.
Smith said the bond bill would not be binding and supervisors could reject the bond money or the Rural Development funds if they see the customers will be charged more than they can pay.
The taxpayers of Marshall County should not be obligated to pay for the sewer and have not paid for the sewer in the Chickasaw Trail, Smith said.
“This board will have a final vote once we know the final bill – whether it’s all paid from state and federal money or if a percentage of the payback,” said Smith. “The board will see the final bill to customers before it is passed.”
County consultant Gary Anderson reminded the board of supervisors that there is no free money and whether the funding comes from the state or from federal sources, the money ultimately comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page