Utility Authority fiscally sound

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

Members of the Pearl River County Utility Authority’s Board of Trustees received updates on how the organization’s finances are faring and updates concerning ongoing projects.

Executive Director Ray Scott said the revenue for last month was $340,000, which was $34,000 more than projected.

That puts the organization $107,000 above their projection for the year. 

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While the their electricity bill is still lower than budgeted, mostly due to the rate decrease Mississippi Power implemented, wages and benefits are a bit higher than expected due to the addition of an unbudgeted employee d, Scott said.

Utility Authority Engineer Vernon Moore briefed the Board on the construction of a new wastewater lagoon at the Wildwood Subdivision. He said the project is about 90 percent complete, and estimates it will be operational by the end of the month.  

That construction included an insulated building for the system’s filters to prevent them from freezing in cold weather,  and four one-acre zones for the drip field. 

Board members intend to tour the facility when complete. 

Work to rehabilitate a portion of the wastewater lines in Picayune has lined about 90,000 feet of pipe so far. Moore said there is a total of 360,000 feet of wastewater lines in Picayune. 

“The city of Picayune ought to be thankful for the Utility Authority,” Board member Billy Spears said. 

Moore also updated the Board on a project that will replace existing sewer mains in the area of Herrin Drive in Picayune. Moore said the main is in the backyard of a home in the area, meaning they will have to tear down part of the fence, relocate the dogs currently housed there and then rebuild the fence when the work is complete. 

The Board also approved making a change to their standby utility contract, adding a “three man repair crew” clause at a rate of $232 per hour. Operations Director Allan Howe said the clause will give the Utility Authority an extra layer of protection for instances of emergency repair jobs to help them move past the bidding process. Howe said skipping the bidding process is important when sewage is leaking out of the system and needs to be repaired immediately. 

Board President Sonny Sones gave the Board an update on information he gleaned during the most recent Gulf Coast Regional Board meeting. In his attempts to find out where the most recent BP oil spill money would be dispersed, he discovered that the project the Board submitted does not meet the newly established criteria. Sones said prior to submitting the project, estimated to cost about $4 million, there was not a limit on how much a project could cost. 

At the regional meeting, Sones found out that Pearl River County’s project has been rejected because it costs more than $1 million. 

He asked the Board to come up with another project that meets that criteria. 

In a separate matter, the Board approved a motion to move the next meeting back by a week to give Scott extra time to get the budget ready for approval.

The next meeting will be Sept. 22, at 2 p.m. at the Neal Road facility in Picayune.