Reservoir Residents Seek Decision Voice
By Bill Pardue
Daily News Staff Writer
Rep. Jim Morrow of Rankin County and a civic organization have joined forces to help give Ross Barnett Reservoir residents a "degree of self-government."
Morrow has filed a bill which would increase membership of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District to 17 members, adding three directors selected from reservoir homeowners. The Reservoir Jaycees are backing the measure. The 40 man group maintains the supply district's board acts as the reservoir's "city council."
Jaycee President David Fleming said the district's board is responsible for municipal-type services, including road maintenance, fire and police protection, water and sewerage and garbage collection.
But the 300 families now living on the reservoir have no direct voice in the district board's decisions, Fleming said this morning at a Capitol news conference. He said they pay Rankin taxes and an average of $250 annual rental for reservoir lots. The Jaycee president stressed most families are satisfied with the board's performance, but wish to be represented in the decision-making process.
Morrow's legislation asks the governor appoint three reservoir residents to the board. The governor already appoints five persons nominated from a field of 15 offered by county supervisors.
Counties directly name five others and four representative of state agencies complete the governing body.
Morrow predicted the bill has an "excellent" chance of passage.
The bill didn't pass and the board's 14 members are chosen the same way today as in 1974. Of course it should be noted that 3 members of the current board live on reservoir property, 1 in Madison County and 2 in Rankin County.
Much has changed in the last 36 years. The number of families is now over 5000 and the PRVWSD no longer provides road maintenance, fire protection, or garbage collection. Those services, along with police protection for the residential areas, are provided by the county or local municipality.
Despite giving up many services they still maintain some "local government" functions such as:
- Maintain a Building and Permit department that issues permits and enforces building codes.
- Exercises absolute control over land use for all reservoir property
- Operates a water/sewer department for leaseholders
- Enforces ordinances on rental property
- Enforces a property maintenance code for all residential/commercial structures
So, the question is still valid.
Should reservoir area residents have more representation on the PRVWSD Board Of Directors?
We'd like to hear what you think about that question or any other comments/suggestions about the management of the Rez.