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Petal officials are working to fix the sewer backup on Hillcrest Drive

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City of Petal officials fixed an issue that was causing sewer backups in at least three homes on Hillcrest Drive.

Mayor Tony Ducker said the problem was caused by a “root ball”, which occurs when the roots of multiple trees become tangled and cause a blockage. The issue was addressed in an executive session at the Petal Board of Alderman’s July 5 meeting, and staff from the City of Petal’s Public Works Department visited the residences shortly thereafter to resolve the issue.

“The decision that was made was to go over there and have (the engineers) get us some information on the cost of the cleanup and bring us those numbers,” Mayor Tony Ducker said. “But I don’t have those numbers, so it’s a fantastic moment for me to come back with them and say ‘hey, we need that.

“At first I thought it was part of the boredom happening – we just did the boredom – but it turns out we think it was actually the clod that was affecting it.”

To help prevent further trouble, Ducker is expecting money from the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion federal economic stimulus bill that was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021 to help the country recover from COVID-19. pandemic.

To that end, Ducker had conversations with City Engineer John Weeks to ensure the city got its share of the funds to make improvements to the sewer system.

“With some of this money that is about to come here… we want to be sure that we can make improvements to improve the system, so that we can get rid of a lot of the problems that we have had and prepare us for some of the growth that we’ve had,” Ducker said. “We have a very proactive plan – we’ve been front and center from the start, having signed an $11 million contract with (Hattisburg engineering firm) Shows, Dearman and Waits where we can take sections of IT out.

“It’s really going to allow us to choose projects as the money becomes available, so we’re going to be smart with taxpayers’ money and push it as far as we can.”

Ducker said that since the city’s sewer system is several years old, it receives an abundance of water seepage that you wouldn’t expect from a more modern system.

“That means when it rains we can see our meter and the amount we pay Hattiesburg (for treatment) goes up,” he said. “So water is getting into our system, and that’s not unusual – any municipal system, or any older system, is going to have that.

“But the goal is to try to do better. We have upcoming projects under this contract that should improve it significantly. This is something that needs to be done on a consistent basis; we still haven’t had the funds to be proactive. So that should make it better – that’s a big deal.

In March, city officials announced that the city is expected to save approximately $300,000 over the next few years after the Petal Board of Aldermen recently approved the refinancing of part of the water and initially approved in 2006 and refinanced in 2015. .

That equates to about $27,000 a year by 2023, when the bonds are expected to be repaid by the city. Initially, the savings were estimated at around $203,000, but higher rates pushed that figure up to $300,000.

“I think ARPA fund maturities are committed by 2024, done by 2026, and now you’re getting closer and closer to 2028 and 2032, when that $15 million bond will be fully repaid,” he said. said Ducker. “This (link) was under (former mayor) Carl Scott, under this administration.

“Part of it is repaid in 2028, but the problem, you don’t see any gain until 2032, when it is fully repaid. What happens is that after you pay off part of it, the amount you have to pay on the other goes up, so you still have to commit roughly the same amount of money.

ARPA measures include public health spending, addressing the negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, serving the hardest hit communities and families, replacing lost public sector revenue, paying a bonus to essential workers and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

Broken down even further, these measures involve:

  • Support public health spending: Recipients can use this funding to meet a wide range of public health needs around COVID-19 mitigation, medical spending, behavioral health care, and public health resources.
  • Coping with the negative economic impact caused by COVID: This can provide a range of assistance to individuals and households, small businesses and industries. It can also allow governments to replenish staff capacity.
  • Serving the families hardest hit: these are social guidelines to help reduce disparities in health, housing and education, as well as to promote early childhood education and healthy environments for childhood.
  • Replace lost utility revenue: This targets the months that are economically hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • Provide an Essential Worker Bonus: Recipients can use this funding to directly pay a wide range of essential workers who must be physically present at their jobs, including nursing home, hospital and home care facility staff .
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure: Recipients can use this funding to invest in wastewater, infrastructure, and projects, including building public stormwater infrastructure.