Move made to add sewer lines in south city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

[04/26/01] Vicksburg officials took the first steps Wednesday to install about 600 more feet of sewer line in areas annexed into the municipal limits 11 years ago.

The vote was to begin advertising for the project along U.S. 61 South and Wigwam Road. The combined project that will provide sewer to areas north of the Fast Lane convenience store and east of the highway is projected to cost $405,000.

Mayor Robert Walker said during the board meeting that completing remaining sewer extensions needed in South Ward areas annexed in 1990 could be funded through a bond issue.

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“That has to be a priority for us so that we can meet all of the obligations,” of the city, Walker said.

The annexation began with a proposal to add 70 square miles to Vicksburg in 1983. None of the present officials was in office at the time, although Walker was mayor when the state Supreme Court allowed addition of 20.5 square miles in July 1990.

Walker’s comment drew a response from South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb who said after the meeting that the city should not have to go into debt for the improvements when money is already being spent on projects such as the $1.5 million Jackson Street Creative Resource Center and $40,000 to sponsor a fishing tournament.

“If it were really a priority, it could have been funded without any debt,” Habeeb said.

The city used a $7 million bond issue in 1994 to install main sewer lines in the areas annexed in both the North and South wards. While main lines are available in all of the North Ward, Habeeb said that nearly $3 million of work is still needed in the South Ward to make municipal sewer available to everyone.

“Police, fire, water, sewer and streets. That’s what we need to focus on,” Habeeb said.

Adding to the complaints among South Ward residents was that a $346,943 state Community Development Block Grant is being used to pay for residents’ sewer connections in the Kings area. In other parts of the city, no grants were sought, and residents, regardless of their income, are paying private plumbers to run lines.

The cost for an individual household can range from $500 to $2,500 or more, depending on the distance from the home to the sewer main.

Habeeb also said the city’s $30.2 million budget has become too dependent on casino revenue for the day-to-day operation of city services and that some of that money could have been used for sewer improvements.

In other matters the board:

Approved $300 to sponsor Miss Vicksburg Melanie Sanders in the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

Approved the purchase of ballots and other election materials at a cost of $14,111.

Adopted an amendment to the city’s sign ordinance. Under the new law, individuals or business that place signs in the city’s right-of-way will be given one 24-hour notice before all signs are removed by the city. Walker, who voted against the amendment, said he preferred the amendment remove the 24-hour notice period.

Authorized Martha Ferris, who was awarded a contract to paint a mural on the flood wall at City Front, to use the McGuffie building for storage for the contract period.

The mayor and aldermen will meet again at 10 a.m., Monday at City Hall.