Meridian responds to sewage suit

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 28, 2001
Documents have been filed in Lauderdale Chancery Court by Meridian officials responding to a lawsuit brought by Marion in a sewage rate dispute.
Meridian and Marion officials have been battling for months over a large increase approved by the Meridian City Council to treat Marion's sewage.
In November the Meridian City Council voted to nearly quadruple the price it charges Marion for sewage treatment, from .67 cents per thousand gallons to $2.43 per thousand gallons.
In their suit, Marion officials allege the decision breaks faith with a 1986 agreement that set a formula for how the rate should be determined and that Meridian isn't following the formula.
Meridian city leaders claim an action by a previous council cannot bind a current council, therefore the agreement can be terminated.
The vote to increase the sewage rates came after Marion failed in a bid to trade lower rates for permission to cross their city limits with a pipeline connecting Naval Air Station Meridian to Meridian's sewage treatment system.
The cheapest routes to connect pipes from Meridian to the base ran through Marion. Since that time, Meridian has selected an alternative route bypassing Marion.
Marion is asking a Chancery Court judge to set a "fair" price for its sewage treatment until the town can build its own treatment facility.
Although Meridian attorney Bill Hammack was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday, Marion attorney Tom Goldman says Meridian's response asks the Chancery Court judge to enforce the $2.43 price for sewage treatment.
According to Goldman, no court date has been to settle the dispute.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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