Three council seats are on the ballot in Tuesday’s municipal election. Council members Dale Inman and Nancy Lawson are not seeking re-election while councilman Robert “Greasy” Lawson has resigned. Four candidates are running to succeed Inman and Nancy Lawson while three candidates are running to complete the remainder of Robert Lawson’s term. The winners of Inman’s and Nancy Lawson’s seats will serve four years while the winner of Robert Lawson’s seat will serve two years.
Jeanie Belue, Ray Duncan and Tammy Stamey are running for the two-year term.
Lockhart is considering its options for the future of its sewage system. The town is seeking an alternative to its existing arrangement with a Louisiana firm that handles its sewage.
Alternatives include building a modular facility that can be expanded and disposes of processed sewage on land; a package plant which is a smaller version of the existing facility; renegotiating its current agreement; and sending the sewage to Union for processing. In the first two options, the facilities would be owned and operated by the town. The fourth option would require building a 10-mile link between Union and Lockhart’s systems.
Ms. Belue said whatever alternative the town selects, it should help hold down sewer rates.
“I’m just for whatever’s best for the people of Lockhart,” she said. “I want people to be able to afford it. This town is mostly older people and the rate increases are hard on them.”
Duncan said he favors sending the town’s sewage to Union because it presents the town with an opportunity for economic development
“We’re talking about running a sewer line to Union and the town could get a grant to pay for it,” he said. “You know you’re going to have people between here and Union that will want to tap on. Split the tap on fees with Union and Lockhart gets a percentage of that new customer revenue. The money they’d be getting would inspire Union to get a grant to build a new water line between them and the town.
“Water and sewer lines between here and Union would promote economic development,” he said. “It’s like the natural gas line the city is building on the Carlisle Highway. That’s going to increase property values and make the area a lot more attractive to development. The same thing could happen here with new sewer and water lines.”
Ms. Stamey called on the town to unite behind Mayor Ailene Ashe to find the best solution to the problem.
“I would like to see everybody get behind Ailene Ashe to better our town as far as the sewage situation is concerned,” she said. “Let’s come together as a community, weigh our options and do what’s best for everybody.”
An issue that recently sparked controversy was whether the mayor and members of council who now serve without pay should receive salaries. Mrs. Ashe proposed that the mayor be paid a salary of $400 a month and the members of council $50 a month each.
“I’m not against it, but until we can afford it, no,” Mrs. Belue said. “It’ll be many years down the road before we’re able to afford it. Until then, I say no.”
Duncan rejected the idea of a salary outright.
“I’m very opposed to it because the economy is too bad to be asking for any kind of pay,” he said. “You know you’re running for an office that doesn’t pay anything. It’s unfair to the people of Lockhart.”
Ms. Stamey said the only way mayor and council should get salaries is if the town can afford it.
“I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it for the people of Lockhart,” she said. “Like Ailene said, if the money is available, pay it; if it isn’t, don’t.”