The city of Hattiesburg is one step closer to finding a solution to its waste water treatment and disposal problems.
The city council voted 4-0 in a special-called meeting Monday morning to declare its intent to issue bonds with or borrow funds from the Mississippi Development Bank for "improving, repairing, and extending the Combined Water and Sewer System." The amount does not exceed $25 million, and it puts the city in a position to begin payments for whichever waste water system they choose.
"In the month of December, we will be making that decision," City Council President Kim Bradley said about choosing between mechanical or land application systems.
Bradley previously said the council would likely choose land application next month.
The approved resolution declaring their intent provides a 30-day "protest period," as it was referred to by the city's legal counsel from Butler Snow law firm. This gives the public the opportunity to voice any concerns before the council signs off on the bond or loan, whichever method they choose.
Bradley said this financing method has a much lower interest rate than when the city consider private bonds nearly two years ago as it prepared to move forward with a land application system. Now that the city council has given more time for the process, and looked to state revolving fund dollars for financing, that interest rate is lower.
"The SRF is at 1.75 percent, and the municipal bonds today are somewhere around 4 percent," Bradley said. "The up-charge on the water and sewer bill is going to be much less than what we were talking about in previous months."
The city continues to be fined $1,500 each day for missing a September deadline with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for failing to submit a design plan for its waste water solution. If the city moves forward with land application in December, those designs are ready to be submitted, thus the fines would end.
The city's next scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. with an agenda setting and work session scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7.