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Meridian officials want delinquent sewage fees

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
April 19, 2001
Although city leaders are remaining mum about how, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith said Wednesday they have every intention to collect delinquent sewage fees owed by the town of Marion.
In November the Meridian City Council voted to nearly quadruple the price it charges Marion for treating its sewage, from 67 cents per thousand gallons to $2.43 per thousand gallons.
The rate hike went into effect beginning Feb. 1, but so far Meridian has continued to receive payment at the old rate. After city officials made repeated requests to obtain payment at the higher rate, Marion officials sent a letter saying they would not pay until a pending lawsuit against Meridian settles the dispute.
Smith declined to say whether or not the city will file a counter-claim against Marion to collect the delinquent fees.
Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt said as far as he knows, the city hasn't yet filed a counter-claim.
Threatt and other Marion officials contend that Meridian had no right to raise the sewage rates because the town has a 1986 agreement with Meridian to maintain the 67-cent rate.
Meridian city leaders claim an action by a previous council cannot bind the current one. They also say the rate hike is justified because a city ordinance forces customers outside the city limits to be charged the same rate as customers inside the boundaries, $2.43 per thousand gallons.
The vote to increase the sewage rates came after Marion attempted to trade lower rates for permission to cross the town with a pipeline connecting Naval Air Station Meridian to Meridian's sewage treatment system.
The cheapest route for Meridian to connect to the Navy base ran through Marion. Since that time, Meridian officials have selected a more expensive alternative route.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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