• 41°

Marion considers legal action

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Nov. 28, 2000
Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt is considering legal action against Meridian, after the Meridian City Council voted Monday to almost quadruple Marion's water fees.
Marion's water has been treated by Meridian for a number of years at a rate of 67 cents per thousand gallons of water, while Meridian residents pay $2.43 per thousand gallons.
In recent months, Marion's aldermen have attempted to keep their water rates low, using a Naval Air Station Meridian project for leverage.
Meridian city leaders have been working for several years to connect NAS Meridian to the city's water and sewer lines to make the base more viable in case of future base closures. City engineers had determined the cheapest way to connect the base and the city was to run lines through a portion of Marion.
Marion's aldermen recently tried to use the right-of-way through Marion as a bargaining chip refusing to allow the pipes to be run through the town unless the city fixed the 67-cent rate for water treatment.
On Monday the council voted 5-0 to bypass Marion with a new route to NAS Meridian and to raise Marion's water treatment fees to $2.43 per thousand gallons.
Threatt said this morning his town can't afford to pay $2.43 for its water treatment. He said the council's action breaks faith with an existing agreement the Meridian City Council made with Marion.
According to Threatt, a 1986 agreement gave Marion the ability to renew its water and sewer treatment service at the same rate.
At Monday's special meeting of the Meridian City Council, city attorneys said the council could change the agreement because of a recent Mississippi Attorney General's ruling that a previous council action does not bind a current council.
Threatt doesn't agree.
Threatt said Marion officials will probably pursue legal action designed to reverse the council's decision.
After the meeting, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith said the city is being more than fair given what Marion tried to do.
Meridian officials said the decision by Marion aldermen to refuse to allow the lines inside their city limits will add $200,000 to the project.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@meridianstar.com.

x