Threatt: Meridian wants to take over'
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Aug. 21, 2003
Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt says he believes the city of Meridian is trying to bully his residents into eventual annexation.
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith insists he just wants Marion to pay a past-due bill.
At issue is $72,500 Marion owes Meridian for sewage treatment about $45,500 for June and about $27,000 for July.
Threatt said his system's leaky pipes have allowed rain water to enter the lines, doubling the amount of water Marion sends to Meridian for treatment, and creating huge spikes in the amount of each month's bill.
Before this year's unusually wet summer, the sewage treatment bill for Marion's 1,300 residents was $10,000-$13,000. Threatt said Meridian officials are less than understanding of the smaller town's situation.
Bad situation gets worse
Tension between the neighboring municipalities rose earlier this year when a Lauderdale County chancery judge ruled that Meridian could begin charging Marion $2.43 cents per thousand gallons of treated sewage up from 67.7 cents per thousand gallons.
The ruling ended a two-year battle over the sewage rate.
The two have also been locked recently in heated annexation battles Meridian winning the most recent skirmish last year to proceed with an attempt to annex parts of north Lauderdale County.
Threatt said he believes Meridian officials are positioning themselves to swallow his town.
Threatt said Marion became a target when it attracted new industrial and commercial attention.
Threatt said he believes his town can pay the debt and prevail. He said he's already talked to a local bank about borrowing money to pay the current debt and town officials are also considering treating the town's sewage themselves.
Mayor Smith said he's talked with several Marion residents who have expressed interest in becoming Meridian residents.
In the meantime, Smith said, he just wants Marion to pay up or Meridian officials will have to sue.
He said it's not Meridian's problem how much rain water is leaking into Marion's system.
Smith said he expects the situation to get worse.