Repairs at water treatment plant the right move

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr.’s decision to go ahead with upgrading the electrical systems at the city’s water treatment plant in Haining Road is the right move.

“I refuse to let this plant run on the edge of improvement, so therefore I’m going to recommend to this board that we find the money and we upgrade the electrical and we move forward,” Flaggs said Monday.

He’s right. If Vicksburg’s city fathers are truly serious about attracting new business and industry and the city becoming a premiere tourist destination, they cannot afford to have the city’s water or sewer systems crashing because of faulty or old equipment. And inferior infrastructure and services are one way to ensure that tourists will stay away and business and industry will think twice about locating here. It needs to modernize its systems with an eye toward being adaptable enough to handle the expansion of service in the future.

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When the system was installed when the plant was built in the late 1960s, it was the state of the art. Now, it’s an antiquated system that no longer functions properly and is prone by age to break down, as it did last week and as it did in August 2016, when it went down and shut down the plant’s four pumps. For a city that wants to grow and be a model for the state, such problems are unacceptable.

Flaggs’ plan to finance the project by using money from the gas department’s $9 million surplus also makes sense. We are using money that is available and readily accessible. It will be repaid by a bond issue using water and sewer user fees, which is also a good idea.

True, the mayor said the water and sewer rates will increase, but that is something he predicted earlier in the year. No one likes to see rates or taxes go up, but providing services like water and sewer costs money, and getting more expensive daily. While the utility system is not meant to show a profit, it still needs sufficient funding for operation, maintenance and improvements to provide the best service.

The mayor’s decision to move ahead with the water plant repairs puts the city in a position to better provide service now and to meet future needs. It is the correct move at this time.