Utility authority approves private utility’s expansion

Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A local water company received approval for a certificated area expansion even though they would not agree to the terms set forth in a previous meeting by the Pearl River County Utility Authority.

During the last Utility Authority meeting, Sunny Oaks Water Association sent a request to the authority asking to expand their certificated area to cover a new subdivision, Oak Haven.

The authority then asked Sunny Oaks Water to purchase water from a new well and water storage tank to be built in the Poplarville area, if they were to get the expansion. Sunny Oaks returned a decision that they did not want to be bound to such an agreement but still wanted the expansion.

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“We don’t want to hit anybody over the head, although we do need some cooperation,” authority president Steve Lawler said at their Monday evening meeting at Picayune City Hall. “It could be a good symbiotic relationship if they let it be.”

Brooks Wallce, with Dungan Engineering, said there are 125 acres in the first two phases of the 500 acre subdivision. Kenny Allison, president and owner of Capital Investments, said that in those two phases there will be about 72 lots to develop. Those lots can’t be developed until water is provided to them, he said.

“I would love to see ya’ll get together and work it all out,” Allison said.

In spite of Sunny Oaks failure to cooperate with the authority, the authority approved a motion to ask authority attorney Jeff Holliman to draw up a resolution stating that Sunny Oaks can have the expansion of their certificated area to include phases I and II for Oak Haven Subdivision. That approval will not be indicative of all future applications, Lawler said. Each application will be determined on a case by case basis.

The authority then discussed three contracts to install the well, water tank and sewer treatment plant near Poplarville. It expects to receive bids and work started within 60 days, at the earliest. That time frame might be longe,r depending on what kind of speed bumps the authority hits along the way, Lawler said.

Holliman presented the authority with rough working drafts for taking over all or part of the Poplarville water system. The draft stated that if the authority agrees to take over a part of the Poplarville water system that still has debt, then that debt would be the authority’s.

“You have to understand that what your taking (in) may not be in good shape, you may have to maintain it,” Holliman said.

Wallce said that Poplarville may be looking to rid itself of the wholesale portion of their water utility as well, such as the treatment, storage and pumping of water.

If Poplarville wants to go through with the process, the authority could gain an operational facility, which may need some repairs to have a flow of revenue, Holliman said. The authority would be under contract to use the existing Poplarville employee-base to maintain the facilities, Holliman said.

No decision has been made and talks need to be concluded with the Poplarville Board of Alderman on Tuesday. Authority member Tommy Breland will discuss the matter further with the board of alderman at that meeting.

A county resident applied for an address with the county E-911 office lastAugust, but took too long install the mobile home for which he received the address. When the resident had to go back to get another address certification, he had to pay the authority fee of $300. He asked the authority why he had to pay it.

Holliman said that the address permit is only good for six months, giving the resident plenty of time to get the work done. After that time period, the resident must reapply. If the resident had reapplied before Jan. 31, then he would not have had to pay the authority fee, Holliman said.

Planning and Development Director Harold Holmes presented the authority with draft proposals stating that county subdivision regulations concerning water, waste water and storm water were handed over to the authority at the meeting. Now the two offices can cooperate on future matters concerning those water services.

The authority has a balance of $7,360 in its account. In the future, Lawler wants to put a docket including a treasurer’s report in the hands of every authority member for each meeting.

Lawler said he has heard complaints about the authority paying money for professional services the authority has been using. Of the other four counties included in the Regional Waste Water Plan, Pearl River County is ahead of the game, and those other counties look to Pearl River County to get an idea of what to do, Lawler said.

“They are the main reason we are where we are at today,” Lawler said about Dungan Engineering and Butler, Snow.

The authority welcomed a new member, Ernie Lavell to the board. He is taking Glade Woods place as a City of Picayune authority representative.

The authority went into executive session on legal matters and personnel matters. When they came out they discussed putting authority member Ike Lewis on the Technical Committee to replace Don Durham.

In other business the authority;

— Approved setting a bond for $5,000 for the employees who accept authority fees.

— Approved hiring Alexander Van Loon Accounting.

— Approved the docket.

The authority meets at 6 p.m. Monday, May 7, at the Poplarville City Hall.