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Marion's hopes dim in sewage dispute

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Jan. 5, 2001
Marion leaders' slim hopes of negotiating new sewage rates for the town may have been dashed after receiving a letter from Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith.
The latest message from Smith's office appears to have closed the door on the possibility of restoring lower rates for Marion.
In November, the Meridian City Council voted to more than quadruple the price it charges Marion for treating its sewage. The vote came after a failed attempt by Marion leaders to trade lower rates for permission to cross their city limits with a pipeline connecting NAS Meridian to Meridian's sewage treatment system.
The cheapest routes to connect pipes from Meridian to the Navy base run through Marion.
Before the city council's action, Marion was paying 67 cents per thousand gallons for treatment. After the council's action, the price went to $2.43 per thousand gallons.
Marion officials say they have an agreement with Meridian to treat sewage at the 67-cent price for several more years, and that the agreement is legally binding. Meridian officials claim the increase is warranted because it matches the price to treat Marion's sewage.
After hearing the rates were being increased, Threatt said the city would consider filing a suit against Meridian for breaking the agreement although Meridian officials have yet to be served.
When contacted Thursday, Mayor Smith refused to discuss specifics of the letter sent to Marion officials.
Smith did say Meridian would continue to treat Marion's sewage.
Threatt said the city may be forced to construct its own sewage treatment plant if Meridian won't grant them any relief from the rate increases. Threatt said he will discuss the matter with the Board of Aldermen at their next meeting on Jan. 9.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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