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Hayti Heights on the Move Toward Sustainability

February 28, 2011 |
Hayti Heights, Pemiscot County, Missouri

Problem: Unable to provide safe, quality water and wastewater treatment in a small, very low-income community.
Midwest Assistance Program helped the community with extensive board training and building technical, financial and managerial capacity.

Hayti Heights is a fourth-class city located in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri. The city has a population of approximately 771, consisting of 254 households. The low-income population served is

451, the minority population served is 758, and the median household income is $12,011. The city operates water treatment and distribution and wastewater collection for its residents. The problems involved with both systems are extensive, and involve all areas of ownership and operation.

Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) was initially consulted to assist the city with managerial and financial issues for USDA Rural Development, but in the last year the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) has requested MAP’s assistance as well in assessing and addressing total TMF capacity. This last de

velopment is the result of the state’s appointment of MoDNR as ‘receiver’ of Hayti Heights’ water and wastewater systems, effective May 28, 2010. The city has been deemed insolvent, due to mismanagement, and is unable to provide safe, adequate and reliable water and wastewater services to its residents. Both systems are heavily in debt, and in dire need of repair.
MAP has conducted an extensive evaluation of both the water and the wastewater systems. Because of this, MAP has provided MoDNR with the needed operational information and repair and replacement recommendations for their planning purposes. This is extremely beneficial due to the fact that tax dollars, not revenue from customer receipts, are funding any and all improvements while the systems are under receivership.
The state has had to exercise extreme prudence in the definition and

priority of funded improvement requests.

MAP has, and is still conducting board training in depth for the city. One hour before each meeting has been set aside specifically for this training, and is a mandated requirement for Hayti Heights set by both USDA Rural Development and MoDNR. As the board gains understanding of their role in service to the city, they have requested further information and instruction regarding management of the utilities and other municipal operations. Acting on MAP’s recommendations, they are updating their ordinances (which were provided by MAP), assigning specific ta

sks to be done by individuals on the board, and have been able to obtain the necessary insurance and bonding with MAP’s guidance.
MAP is currently working with the city to get the financials in order. Although MoDNR has complete control over the water and wastewater funds and operations, MAP is instructing the city on preparation of policies and procedures regarding billing, collection, reporting and controls in the event they assume responsibility of the systems. MAP’s training in this area is advantageous to the city because it applies to other operations, such as trash service and tax collection as well. MAP is in the process of a rate analysis as MAP’s research progressively defines the actual debt load and the funds the debt applies to.
MAP will continue board training, and assist the city with compiling an owner’s manual for their systems, complete with policies, procedures, and operational requirements for system sustainability. It has been a slow and difficult process to achieve progress at Hayti Heights, but the fact that progress has been made, and continues in a forward direction, is proof positive that our funding has been beneficial for the entire community, and planning for the future does not need to be done arbitrarily.