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Utility Authority receives favorable audit

Pearl River County’s Utility Authority received a positive audit at its Thursday meeting, and the first phase of the work to bring sewer treatment to Hide-A-Way Lake is nearing completion.

Paige Johnson of Nicholson & Company PLLC briefed the Utility Authority board concerning the outcome of their annual audit. Johnson said the audit had an unqualified opinion, which means no problems were found.

The Utility Authority has about $65 million in assets, an increase of $8 million from the previous year, and paying off the SRF loan has helped the Utility Authority to increase the amount of cash on hand, Johnson said.

Ray Scott of the accounting firm Scott & Associates suggested to the board that it begin to put funds aside to keep the Utility Authority running in a time of crisis. The amount of cash on hand would be up to the board, but should meet between three and nine months worth of operating expenses. Scott also suggested the board begin to save to pay for future maintenance on its facilities.

Utility Authority Engineer Brooks Wallace updated the board on the progress of the installation of sewer collection lines in Hide-A-Way Lake subdivision. With half of the connections made along the lake, he suggested Utility Authority staff could begin to respond to grinder pump alarms, or when a grinder pump needs maintenance.

Sewer connections in the gated community were funded with CIAP grant funds, and the application process is still open for residents. Wallace said applications will be accepted until the second phase of the work is bid out on June 6. Wallace expects the second half of that project to be bid out as 65 connections, but so far 56 homes have turned in applications.

The board also approved a motion to open a bank account for the money that will be set aside to replace the grinder pumps in the next 10 to 12 years. Each pump has a five year warranty, and is expected to operate for at least 10 years before a replacement is needed, Wallace said. Of the $24.25 sewer rate charged to HAWL residents, $8 a month will be set aside in the bank account to pay for the grinder pump replacement when needed.

Executive Director Jeff McClain said he has had discussions with some businesses in the newly annexed part of Picayune off of Mississippi Highway 43 North and said five or six of the businesses in the area of Miss. Hwy. 43 and Beech Street indicated they would be willing to connect to a sewage system if the line was extended to that area. The cost to extend the line would be about $35,000. The board did not take any action on the matter.

The next regular meeting of the Utility Authority board is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, May 17, at Poplarville City Hall.