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Sewer ordinance changes sign up process for utilities

Lincoln County officials are working with area utility companieson a proposal to centralize the services connection process for thecounty’s new sewer ordinance.

The ordinance, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires new homesand businesses in the county to have sewer treatment systems thatare in compliance with health department regulations. Existingstructures are not subject to the ordinance unless remodeling orrenovations are done.

County Administrator David Fields, Tax Assessor-Collector NancyJordan and 911 Coordinator Janice Haley met Wednesday withrepresentatives of Magnolia Electric, Southwest Electric PowerAssociation, Entergy, Lincoln Rural Water and the health departmentto discuss how to implement the new ordinance.

“We’re going to have to implement all this through 911,” Fieldssaid.

In addition to sewer-related issues, Fields said going through911 would insure new residences have a verified 911 address andwould also allow better tracking of resident movement for tax andgarbage service purposes. He also mentioned wanting to helpresidents who are seeking utility connections.

“What we’re wanting to do is centralize this whole process,”Fields said.

Wednesday’s discussion included a process that would apply tonot only sewer connections but also to the start up or reconnectionof electricity and water services.

Under a proposal developed Wednesday, county citizens needing autility service connection would start at the 911 office at thegovernment complex.

Haley said she could then assign a 911 address if the residenceor structure does not currently have one. Officials mentionedinstances where structures did not have addresses or were using theaddress of another building on the property.

“Two houses can’t have the same address,” Haley said.

Mobile home occupants would have to obtain a registration numberfrom Jordan’s office. For new structures, Haley could then assign atemporary permit number to allow utilities to be connected.

In cases where a sewer system is being installed, the healthdepartment would be contacted to inspect the home site andrecommend a treatment system. Permanent utility connection would becontingent on health department approval of the sewer treatmentsystem.

“The whole intent of this ordinance is to start it off right,”Fields said.

The process would be shorter for existing homes and businessesneeding reconnection of utility services.

County and utility officials discussed developing a checklistfor customers to follow when seeking service connections. Thechecklist would include information on what companies require toconnect or re-connect a customer.

“If we have all that information, we’ll help walk them throughit,” Fields said.

Fields was expected to discuss the utility connection proposalswith supervisors during Friday’s board meeting.

Bruce Rawls, district environmentalist for the healthdepartment, applauded the proposal whereby residents seeking asewer permit would need a 911 address.

“We love it when they have a 911 address, because that’s the waywe set up our files,” Rawls said.

Utility company officials were receptive to the new measures,but added that customers would be following a different process toget utility services connected.

“This is a drastic change for the people,” said Kenny Goza,account services manager for Entergy.

Goza and Dennis Reeves, member services manager for MagnoliaElectric, said public awareness of the new process would be veryimportant.

“It’ll take a little getting used to,” Reeves said.

Fields acknowledged the changes for citizens.

“They’re going to have to do more than they’re doing now, butwe’re going to need them to,” Fields said.

Fields said the county would be notifying mobile home dealersabout the sewer ordinances. Utility companies not representedWednesday were also expected to be contacted regarding the serviceconnection proposals.

Officials said the centralized process could start Monday,although it may take some time to get familiar with it. They agreedto revisit the issue in 60-90 days.