Mayor: Lucedale can’t afford to provide sewer service

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The mayor of Lucedale says the city can’t afford to provide sewage services to a neighborhood it annexed more than 16 years ago, creating a problem some residents say stinks.

Neal Henry, who was forced to sell his pigs when the city annexed his land, said the odor of failing septic tanks in the area is far worse than the hog farm he had to liquidate.

“The city promised that we would have city sewer within five years,” he said. “We still do not have it.”

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Installing 5,800 feet of sewer line and two lift stations to serve 13 homes in the sparsely developed neighborhood will cost an estimated $478,000, according to Frank Parker, an engineer with the firm McCroy and Williams Inc.

Mayor Dayton Whites says the city wants to provide the service, it just can’t afford to.

City officials said they are applying for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Mississippi Development Authority to help install the sewer lines and lift stations.

The deadline for submitting the grant application is early December.

A decision on whether to approve the application won’t be made until late spring, according to Mary Helen Ferguson of The Ferguson Group, the consultant preparing the application.

Ferguson cautioned that only about 40 percent of applications are approved.

Without the grant the residents may be forced to address their septic problems on their own.

Installing a new septic tank can cost thousands of dollars, which is beyond the reach of some neighborhood residents. Many say they are on fixed incomes or working at lower paying jobs.

“The cost of replacing our septic system would be impossible for us,” said resident Annie Mae Hyde. “We live on Social Security.