Stipulations remain with sewer projects
by Denise Strub
Jun 05, 2013 | 1535 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sam Keyes with Butler Snow law firm of Jackson came before the Cleveland Board of Aldermen Tuesday to discuss the potential agreement for sewer services between Cleveland and the Stanton Utility District and the Noblin Utility District.

The aldermen were told the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors had approved board members for both districts, that all members of these boards lived in the districts they represented and that the boards had already held a couple meetings.

Keyes went through some history behind the project and county administrator Will Hooker, County Engineer Bob Eley and several board members from both districts attended.

Cleveland Attorney Jamie Jacks said, “I told Sam the wishes of the board that the county actually guarantees payment because Stanton and Noblin are so new. We are in the position, as the city, that if something happens and the sewer bill is not paid, that we can’t cut it off. So we need some assurance that the county is behind the project (and that the city will be paid).”

The aldermen had discussed in previous meetings that there needed to be an insurance bond on the projects

Aldermen were worried if the city had to go after the bond for failure to pay, it could only go through the process once. After the first time the districts would most likely not be eligible for a bond.

Keyes said both districts were willing to obtain bonds.

“I guess what we’re requesting is that you look at it like any other utility district,” said Keyes.

Keyes explained that while the county cannot legally guarantee payment, it is on the “hook because they are going to have to pay for the loan,” which is paying for the utility districts to be constructed.

“The county obviously is very interested in making sure the project operates very well,” he said.

The board of aldermen was informed that the Boyle-Skene Water Association would be the collecting agent for the districts and would be responsible for reading the meters.

In an agreement between Boyle-Skene and the utility districts, Boyle-Skene collects payment and then turns over the sewer portion to the districts, which then pays the city.

Keyes said, “In the event a customer doesn’t pay, Boyle-Skene or the utility district has the authority to shut off the water. If you want to have water you’ve got to pay your sewer.”

Keyes said Boyle-Skene had “not signed the agreement yet but they appear to be on board.”

“The only thing to do is treat it like any other sewer district,” said Alderman Gary Gainspoletti.

In past negotiations with area subdivisions, the city has required developers to obtain a bond.

Jacks said the city has asked for a $25,000 bond in the past but Stanton and Noblin districts are larger.

The Cleveland Board of Aldermen approved the agreement with the utility districts on the stipulation that the districts each obtain a $50,000 bond; that Boyle-Skene signs the agreement with the districts; and that Boyle-Skene agrees to shut off the water for failure to pay.

The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors, which met on Monday, agreed to wait on awarding construction bids for the two districts until receiving commitment from all parties.

An interlocal agreement is required from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Equality before construction can begin.

Supervisor Attorney Linda F. Coleman advised the board to wait on awarding the bids until Cleveland signed a contract.

Coleman said a separate agreement between the county and districts, defining each party's duties, would be another requirement from the MDEQ.

In other project news, Coleman is still trying to obtain three easement forms from property owners within the Stanton subdivision, another MDEQ requirement.

Approximately 140 property owners will be impacted by the two systems, with nearly all residents already providing signatures.

Coleman encouraged all involved to sign the agreement before construction begins, or they will likely receive future fines.

"The county will install the system now for free but later they will have to pay a fee," said Coleman in an April board meeting.

A June 10 deadline was established by the MDEQ to receive all easement signatures.

Supervisor Donny Whitten (Stanton) said he was restless to settle everything and move forward immediately.

"I think the MDEQ and Delta Regional Authority are very anxious for this project to move forward," said Whitten. "Whatever I can do to help — I'm real nervous about this project."

The board agreed to conduct a special meeting this coming Monday to discuss all matters in hopes it will be able to move forward with the contracts and bids.

Residents of the Isaac Daniels subdivision in Mound Bayou will also be receiving a new system, but the city of Mound Bayou will accept the wastewater.