CADIZ - Ending a boycott against road use and maintenance agreements, the Harrison County commissioners on Wednesday passed several RUMAs tabled at previous meetings.
"Since we have seen some progress, we are going ahead with some of these RUMAs ," Commissioner Dale Norris said, explaining there were a few minor changes to the original version of an agreement with Cardinal Gas for county Roads 44 and 43.
Another agreement with Cardinal Gas includes the recently repaved county Roads 47 and 32. "We have put hundreds of thousands of county dollars into the roads in the last two years. We don't want any damage," Norris said, adding the company has a contractor in place to fix any roadway issues.
Another agreement is for county Roads 44 and 8 with a provision that Chevron meets requirements discussed with the county engineer's office.
Two RUMAs with Chevron were tabled.
"The problem on county Road 61 is not with Chevron, the hold up is due to road damage which occurred under a previous RUMA with Gulfport," Norris said. "It is Gulfport's responsibility. They need to meet their previous commitment and make the repairs, make the road safe for travel before we can authorize any other companies to use it," he said.
Tom Carter, Cadiz water and sewer superintendent, as well as Mayor Ken Zitko and Bob Allen, consultant for Triad Engineering Inc., addressed the board about providing funding assistance for a proposed water line project to ensure uninterrupted supply to residents and commercial development in east Cadiz.
The cost for the project is estimated to be $750,000, with 30 percent principal forgiveness and grants funds being sought.
Commissioner Don Bethel agreed the village and the county are partners in supplying water to residents both inside and outside of the corporation limits, but questioned how this project would help the county.
"There is discussion about development on Route 9, which will not happen without this improvement," Zitko stated. "If we do not come up with another way to provide water to that area, there will come a day we will have to ration water to that area."
"I know that is the main feed for East Cadiz but that line also serves Unionport and several other communities outside of the corporation limit," Norris said. "I believe this will be a benefit to the county and help us better serve our customers outside of the village."
"I certainly see the need and importance of it," said county Engineer Rob Sterling.
Bethel asked if there was a separate fund for the village and the county and if the county was being charged the same rate as residential customers. He also asked if the money from county usage goes into a separate fund.
Carter said the county is charged a bulk rate for water. "We charge the county basically what it costs us to make it. The money we charge the county goes to the operation of making the water."
The village is asking the county for $150,000 to help fund the project. Bethel stated that with all of the infrastructure improvements needed throughout the county the board would have to look carefully at the project before committing to any financial support.
Commissioner Bill Host said the water line project on state Route 519 has been delayed for years and should receive priority over other water projects being considered.
Allen told the board that a decision would have to be reached within 30 to 45 days to allow for time to apply for grant money from OMEGA and ARC.
In other business:
At the request of the county auditor the board transferred $200,000 to pay off part of the principal on the loan for the government center. The note was $800,000, which the county has been paying on for the past eight years, according to Auditor Patrick Moore.
"Just the $200,000 payment will save us some $50,000 to $60,000 over the life of the loan, which has 15 years remaining," said Moore. "If we pay it down in increments then the final payment and penalty would be based on the remaining balance, which could potentially save us over $100,000."
"With all of the new infrastructure projects and possible debt we could be incurring, I feel it is important that we make sure all of our current debt is cleared before we take on any more debt," said Bethel.
The board voted unanimously to transfer funds.