Pearl River County Utility Authority discuss financials, ongoing work

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2016

Board members with the Pearl River County Utility Authority heard an update on the financials and discussed the progress with several projects.
Scott said the usage of electricity by Utility Authority systems was down by $115,000 for the previous month. He attributes that decline to a reduction in wastewater intake and a reduction in the electric company’s rate.
Repairs and maintenance expenses are also down, by about 18 percent, Scott said. That decline in expenses can be attributed to a reduction in the amount of emergency repairs the Utility Authority has had to conduct. Scott said their team has been able to move away from reactive repairs and focus more on proactive work.
Operations Director Allen Howe said the specialized camera purchased by the Utility Authority recently allows their crews to video a line before digging, providing an accurate location of the problem and therefore reducing the time of the work.
“We don’t do a lot of blind digging anymore,” Howe said.
Work to rehabilitate wastewater lines in the city of Picayune is nearing completion in several basins. Vernon Moore, Utility Authority engineer, said one or two of the basins are essentially complete, requiring only asphalt replacement work.
The original completion date of the work was for sometime in September, but Moore said it had to be pushed back to December. He feels the entire project will be complete at that point. However, the work will not be able to fix every line in the city. Scott said the Utility Authority is working to secure another loan to be able to continue repairing the aging wastewater system.
Some contingency funds remain from the original $6 million wastewater rehabilitation project. Scott said about $970,000 is available that will allow the crews to repair more manholes and a wet well, giving the infrastructure a longer life.
In the Wildwood Subdivision, work is ongoing to install a drip field and conduct other work to the wastewater lagoon. Moore said the contractor is behind on the work, however, and has requested another 58 days to complete the project. No action was taken on that matter. However, the Board did approve a pay request from the contractor, T.L. Wallace Construction, to reimburse them $221,908 for the equipment purchased as part of the job.
In other business the Board approved a motion to pay the Picayune School District $7,392 for the lease of 16th section land for the old wastewater treatment lagoon. Scott said the facility is still in use today, processing a little less than half of the wastewater in the city. The rest is diverted to the newer Neal Road wastewater treatment facility.
The Board also approved a motion to reenter into a contract with Center Water Association to pay $1.50 per customer for Center Water to bill their customers on behalf of the Utility Authority for wastewater treatment. Scott said he did not know if officials with Center Water Association would approve the contract. If they decided not to approve the contract the Utility Authority has a couple of options, either up the rate paid to Center Water, or move to the flat rate for wastewater service of $35.75.
During discussion about the Highway 11 widening project, which involves the Utility Authority having to possibly relocate a number of their lines, Scott told the Board that he heard from a city official that the widening project had been pushed back by a year. Scott said the Utility Authority will wait to move their lines until they hear from the Mississippi Department of Transportation about an updated timeline on the project.
Scott also presented the possibility of paying their on-call employees a nominal rate. Scott said the idea is to compensate those on-call employees since they are required to stay close to town while they wait on emergency calls.
The next Utility Authority meeting will be held on July 21, at 2 p.m. in the boardroom at the Neal Road treatment facility in Picayune.

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