The Water Valley Water Department has been going on to private property to unclog sewer lines. While this may sound like a great service for city residents, it is against the law and costs all of us money.
At a recent City Board meeting (see story on page 1), City Attorney David Burns read an opinion from the Attorney General that stated, “A municipality may not perform services on private property such as repairing a sewer line even if the municipality charges the property owner for the service.”
Providing the service for free costs taxpayers every time the water department makes a call. The price goes up when city workers are called out at night or on the weekend.
Add to the mix competition with local plumbers and stir in a dash of local politics and you create a bureaucratic sludge that even a high power hose can’t move.
The dilemma facing city officials is the lack of clean-outs where private sewer lines join the city sewer system. This often makes it impossible to locate the problem without going on private property.
So, what to do? Obey the law as recommended by Alderman Sherry Martin. However, when it is necessary to go on private property, the Water Department should obtain written permission from the property owner allowing access and holding the city blameless for damages. This language could be included on the form a new customer fills out when they have their utilities turned on.
Also, the Water Department should follow Alderman Fred White’s suggestion to save on overtime pay by waiting until the next morning to respond to calls.
City government should help the citizens of the community. But, the city is not in the plumbing business. City officials should provide the Water Department with guidelines based on state law.
The Board of Alderman was scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to vote on an important real estate deal involving a major Water Valley company. The deal could mean the difference between keeping the company or having them move to a neighboring county.
Enough Aldermen could not be found to form a quorum to vote on the matter. Alderman Sherry Martin had to recuse herself and Aldermen Charlie Harris and Fred White were unavailable. That left only two Aldermen, Tommy Swearengen and Lance Clement.
The issue had been presented and discussed during an executive session at their regular meeting on October 2. They have had a week to think about it.
The company has plenty of sound economic reasons for leaving Yalobusha County. Let’s not add a slow moving bureaucracy to their reasons not to stay.