Tupelo City Council approves loans for sewer infrastructure in annexed areas

I'm a journalist focused on government, policy, politics and people.
I find what matters and bird dog it like nobody's business.

Tupelo stockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council approved $5.5 million this week in low-interest loans to begin extending sewer services to the most recently annexed areas in the northeastern part of the city.

The loan is part of an overall $20.8 million effort to provide sewer and water options to the city’s newest residents, currently 1,016 households and businesses.

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Tupelo’s annexation plans in August 2012, adding about 16 square miles and 2,500 residents to the city. The city first launched its bid for annexation in 2008.

Johnny Timmons, director of Tupelo Water and Light, said the areas in the east and northern parts of the annexed land were selected first based on density of the areas and include the following locations: Beech Springs and the Natchez Trace Parkway headquarters, Deer Park, Indian Hills and Auburn Road.

Timmons said he intends for contracts for water and sewer service to annexed areas to run simultaneously to keep the city from having to do construction in the area in twice. He said actual installation of the water and sewer infrastructure would likely begin in early 2014 and be complete in April 2015.

“As quickly as I can get the money in the bank, I’ll start contracting the work,” Timmons said.

He will likely ask the City Council to approve $3.4 million in loans for water improvements in those same areas.

Funding for the low-interest loan is provided through the state Department of Environmental Quality. The city will repay the loans from water and sewer rates.

To help speed up the process, the city completed field work and designs for the water and sewer installation projects in January.

“We wanted to basically get a year’s head start on this annexation compared to the last one,” Timmons said. “My goal is to provide the new residents with these services as fast as we can.”

robbie.ward@journalinc.com