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Supervisors hone St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority’s power

JAY SOWERS /| THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Richard Spencer, an employee of Natchez Railway, measures the distance between two tracks in the Natchez Adams County Port on Thursday afternoon.
JAY SOWERS /| THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —
Richard Spencer, an employee of Natchez Railway, measures the distance between two tracks in the Natchez Adams County Port on Thursday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors passed Thursday a resolution to hone the scope of the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority’s power to the area of the Natchez-Adams County Port.

The resolution also clarifies that the utility authority does not have the power to regulate the activities of non-profit water associations operating in Adams County.

The authority was created in 2007 to accept the liability for and maintenance of wastewater and land sites on the former International Paper property. At the time, Rentech — which has since shelved its plans for an Adams County facility — did not want to take over the portions of the property for which the utility authority has oversight.

Under the original legislative language, the authority was “composed of the geographic area of Adams County” and had the legal mandate for, “the planning, acquisition, construction, maintenance, operation and coordination of solid waste, storm water, water and wastewater systems in order to ensure the delivery of solid waste, storm water, water and wastewater services to citizens residing within the boundaries of Adams County.”

St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority President Chandler Russ said the new boundaries encompass the undeveloped riverfront property from the St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge through the industrial complex at the port, and extend back to the area of Lower Woodville Road.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said that when the original resolution was adopted, it had one goal in mind, economic development through the Rentech project.

“It had no purpose regulating any local utility,” he said.

Narrowing the scope of the utility authority’s jurisdiction emphasizes its role as an economic development body, board attorney Scott Slover said.

“The purpose set out was that it was for economic improvements, and the Natchez-Adams County port area is where that is going to be,” Slover said.

The clarifications about the utility authority’s inability to regulate non-profit water associations clears the way for the authority to work with local water associations for economic development purposes.

“We are looking at creating an agreement between the county, the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority and the Adams County Water Association that would kind of set (water) pricing for industrial prospects,” Slover said. “That allows the utility authority or the county to offset the cost of providing water, because the county and the authority have access to funding measures — such as Mississippi Development Authority grants — that a private organization does not.

“It will help the county and the utility authority to lower the costs of providing water to industrial prospects, and will enable the Adams County Water Association to provide water to those prospects.”

In other news, the board adopted a resolution proclaiming Thursday as Gov. William Forrest Winter Day throughout Adams County.

Thursday was the former governor’s 90th birthday.

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