The Utility Authority meets with supervisors behind closed doors

Published 7:26 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Pearl River County Utility Authority met behind closed doors with county supervisors and decided to help to a local water service provider expand its certification area, with stipulations.

Close to the end of the meeting the utility authority went into executive session for land acquisition matters, but before coming out of executive session, they called in the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors for a private discussion. When they came out of executive session they addressed the land acquisition matter by authorizing the authority’s legal and engineering committees to handle the contract negotiation with G9 Development to acquire an easement for a waste water treatment plant in The Trace Subdivision. However, the authority took no action nor mentioned what was discussed with the supervisors.

Earlier in the Monday meeting, a franchise expansion for Sunny Oaks Water Association in the north end of the county was discussed. The community water provider applied for the expansion so it can service a new subdivision, Oak Haven, which is slated to be built about a mile outside of the association’s current franchise area. The company has an estimated 300 to 400 customers currently and the addition will put them at capacity, said Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering. Wallace suggested the authority ask Sunny Oaks Water to purchase water for the new subdivision from the new well and tank soon to be installed in Poplarville.

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Authority vice president Don Durham agreed to approve the franchise expansion on those grounds and the authority passed that motion. This will make Sunny Oaks a distributor of utility authority water to the new subdivision and provide enough flow to cover future phases.

Wallace said the first phase of Oak Haven will use on site sewer systems, with the following phases to be hooked to a central sewer system.

To help pay for two large invoices, Wallace suggested the authority apply for an Environmental Protection Agency grant for $50,000. The grant will provide enough to pay for invoices from Dungan Engineering and Butler and Snow for services rendered. Authority vice president Don Durham said the two invoices equal to about $50,000 for about three months of work. The authority approved paying two invoices with the grant once it is approved.

During the technical committee report, Wallace said that since the previous meeting 22 preliminary plats were reviewed by Dungan Engineering and of those 12 were approved and the remaining six were not.

The authority has hit a speed bump on the way to receiving the funding for the new well and tank for Poplarville. Utility Authority attorney Mike Caples said the authority must meet some requirements before it can receive the funds for white it was approved. Those requirements include liability insurance for authority members and those who work for them, liability auto insurance for authority and workman’s compensation insurance. The auto insurance would be a blanket coverage policy providing coverage for all work done for the authority in any vehicle, Caples said.

Durham said it is a stipulation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant. The authority approved a motion to have the policy committee review the insurance needs and come back to the next meeting with a recommendation.

The authority since voted to take out an ad in the paper to get its message out to the public. The authority has taken a lot of criticism in the past few months and members feel they need to get their story out. The authority decided to bring the idea before the technical committee and move forward with it at that committee’s discretion.

Another decision made when the authority came out of executive session was to acknowledge a letter from County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin concerning reduced lot size restrictions for a well and septic tank on the same lot.

Wallace said that the authority will reply to the letter, stating that the authority recently accepted decreased lot size restrictions of one acre for a septic tank and well, provided the land in question passes a percolation test.

In other business the authority approved the minutes for the Feb. 5 and 19 meetings.

The authority meets again at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at Poplarville city hall.