Many Residents Unhappy About Water Systems Merger

It was standing room only at a water plant hearing in Phenix City Thursday night. More than a hundred people were there to find out more about a possible water system merger between the city, Fort Mitchell, and Russell County.

The main concern for most people at Thursday night's public meeting was whether their rates would be go up if Phenix City sells part of it's water system plant.

"What we've been told, based on this deal, it will not raise our rates. And people say, well you're paying more for water, how could it not increase your rates? But, you lower your debt service," said Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin.

If the 22 million dollar deal goes through, Mayor Hardin says Phenix City could pay off it's debt on the water plant and put 11 million dollars in the bank.

But a lot of these people disagree with that logic.

"Iif you only have 11 million dollars indebt, you just don't take 11 million and stick it in the bank. There has to be some reason to do that, but I haven't heard it," said Jim Talbot, a developer.

Another concern for some people is whether the merger could cost water plant employees their jobs.

Mayor Hardin said he didn't think there would be jobs lost, but it could happen.

"He basically told me my job is iffy. I might have it, I might not, he didn't know. But he claims in the paper that no one will lose their jobs," said Casey Cambron, a water plant employee.

Not everyone is against the merger. Some people believe it's a good deal in the long run.

"I think it's a benefit for all three involved. The ownership of the plant would be for all three of us, each having an equal vote," said Ft. Mitchell Water System Manager David Ellis.

Phenix City residents and the Mayor say they still have a lot of unanswered questions about the merger. Mayor Hardin said Thursday's meeting was just to clear up any misinformation.

Mayor Hardin says there will be more public meetings, and city council will also be discussing the deal in their work sessions.