Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam said he was disappointed Tuesday upon hearing that Mobile County voters approved a referendum to hand over control of the Prichard Water and Sewer System to the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System.
“We put up a good fight,” he said. “I wish we had started earlier.”
Although the results went back and forth as choices were tallied throughout the night, 53 percent of voters chose to transfer the assets from Prichard’s board to MAWSS. The action passed with a total of 19,989 votes in favor to 18,093 votes opposed.
Ephriam said the measure was successful, in large part, because of the promise of cheaper water bills for Prichard residents, which he said might not be the case. He said the successful vote could mean the eventual insolvency of the municipality with a population of about 22,000, although he said he would work to prevent it.
“My job is to provide services to the citizens and grow the city,” he said.
The problem is, Ephriam said, the city will take a $1.3 million hit “right off the bat” due to the affirmative vote and that loss would have an impact on city services, like garbage pickup and public safety. The $1.3 million is a compilation of municipal service fees paid by customers, a business license fee and a hydrant maintenance fee paid by the board to the city each year.
Proponents of the bill have said MAWSS would continue to pay the municipal fee collection. Ephriam said Tuesday evening that the bill doesn’t require MAWSS pay out the municipal fee, which he estimated at around $800,000 to $900,000. Ephriam added MAWSS would also not be responsible for the business license, or hydrant maintenance fee.
In contested county races on the Republican ticket, Chris Pringle defeated Don Hembree for the State House District 101 seat. The race finished with Pringle receiving 64 percent of the vote. No Democratic challenger in November means Pringle will return to Montgomery.
“I’m very excited and very relieved,” Pringle said.”I’m looking forward to getting up to Montgomery and getting to work, once I get some rest.”
Pringle said he believes it was his experience, having served in the state Legislature once before, that proved to be the difference in this race.
“I really think it was my experience that paid off,” Pringle said. “I think the voters were looking for someone who could hit the ground running.”
Jack Williams took the GOP seat in House District 102, collecting 81 percent of the vote in the three-man race. Williams’ 2,766 votes beat out runner-up Chris McNeil by more than 2,000 votes. McNeil was disqualified by the state Republican Party in May, but it was too late to take his name off the ballot.
Sam Cochran was re-elected as Sheriff of Mobile County, with more than 91 percent of the vote. He defeated Howard Waters. Jay York defeated challenger Bryan D’Angelo for the Republican nod for Mobile County District Judge Place 2.
On the democratic side, Barbara Drummond’s 1,503 votes were enough to beat Charlie Staten, who racked up 1,231 votes in race for House District 103. James Buskey cruised to re-election Tuesday with more than 72 percent of the vote in House District 99.
Robert Edward Battles Jr. unseated Democrat Tracie Roberson for Mobile County School Board District 4, while Reginald Crnshaw took the District 3 race over Henry Roberts II on the Democratic ticket.