Agreement between two boards will give Authority ownership, when signed

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 22, 2015

A contract that would have established an agreement for the Pearl River County Utility Authority to operate and eventually assume ownership of a wastewater treatment plant near the county jail has not been signed by either party, but the plant is expected to begin operating in the next two weeks.
The contract is drafted and will set an agreement between the Utility Authority and the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors. The county is constructing the plant, which will be a smaller version of the ultraviolet light plants in Picayune and Poplarville.
Utility Authority Attorney Heather Ladner and Interim Executive Director Ray Scott said they have both made attempts to meet with the Board of Supervisors to have the contract signed, but have so far been unsuccessful.
In the contract the county would pay the Utility Authority $3.90 per 1,000 gallons to operate the facility.
The contract also outlines a path for the Utility Authority to assume ownership of the plant after the grants to construct the facility have been finalized and the title and loan have been cleared, Ladner said. That process could take about a year.
A motion for Utility Authority to sign the contract and then send it to county officials was rescinded after a majority of the Utility Authority board expressed concern that the Board of Supervisors had not signed it yet.
“If they want us to take the facility they need to show a little initiative,” said Utility Authority board member Ernie Lovell.
Utility Authority Engineer Vernon Moore said he expects the facility to be operational within the next two weeks.
The board tabled the matter with the understanding an emergency meeting would be held once the Board of Supervisors signs the contract.
Earlier in the meeting Scott gave the board an update on revenues for the month. He said overall, revenues came in at $304,000, which was $2,000 less than budgeted, but the budget is still .7 percent in the black for the year.
The maintenance fund is not being exhausted in part to due less repairs being required. Additionally, some maintenance has been moved in-house. Operations Director Alan Howe said one of their employees took the initiative to construct missing guards at several pump stations at a cost of about $50 per guard. If those devices had been purchased at retail they would have cost about $300 a piece. Additionally the crew is performing maintenance on the generators, which will save the Utility authority about $10,000 a year.
Electricity prices have also risen, causing the Utility Authority’s expense to rise by six percent. Scott expects rates to increase again in the future.
Moore gave the board an update on some of the projects underway, including replacement of roofs on lift stations on East Canal Street, Read Road and Circle Drive. Each roof replacement will cost $9,000. To ensure all punch lists are finalized, the final payment to the contractor will be held until an inspection is complete.
The Utility Authority has also received a check from Walmart as part of an agreement to help pay for work to modify a lift station in preparation for the proposed construction a neighborhood market across from the Coast Electric office on U.S. 11.
The $5 million project to video and line aging sewer lines in Picayune is well underway. Moore told the board that it appears there is enough funding to conduct the work on up to seven basins. So far three basins have been videoed and one has been lined.
The next regular meeting of the Utility Authority board will be June 18, at 2 p.m. at the Picayune treatment facility on Neal Road.

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