Proposed Jackson County Utility District To Help Problem Areas

After years of putting up with failing septic tanks, relief may finally be on the way to residents of Ocean Beach Estates. It's also good news for several other areas in Jackson County with similar problems.

The County Board of Supervisors plans to create a utility district which will run water and sewer lines to designated service areas in the county.

"It will solve many of the environmental problems of Ocean Beach Estates, Big Hill Acres and the Helena area where we had raw sewage basically coming to the surface because of the many failing septic tanks," District Five Supervisor John McKay said.

McKay and the rest of the supervisors will meet with county residents Thursday night to discuss the county's plans, and dispel several rumors about who will pay for the utilities.

"There will be some start up costs that we have to take out of the general fund. There will not be a general tax levied to support this," McKay says. "The only people that will pay any type of fees will be the people who actually receive service."

McKay said although the plan is still in the works, three trouble spots come to mind for the project.

"At this time we have no defined service area. Some potential areas are the Helena area, where we're installing sewer right now. A potential area is Ocean Beach Estates. Another potential area is Big Hill Acres. I envision those being the first three service areas we try to put in."

User fees should be about the same as water and sewer fees city residents are paying. However, McKay says customers most likely will not see too many rate increases since the majority of the utility projects will be paid for with state and federal grants.

by Josh Ridgdell