Can sewage project wait?

Published 12:16 am Saturday, October 25, 2008

A $26.6 million sewage expansion and improvement project is necessary for Southampton County’s long-term growth and prosperity.

A suddenly relevant question, though, is whether it’s urgent.

Current upheaval in the nation’s financial markets — and the very real prospects of a national recession, from which Southampton County will not be exempt — should give county supervisors pause about plowing ahead with the massive project.

County citizens get their final say Monday on whether the county should issue up to $34 million in revenue bonds for the project. Taxpayers with misgivings about the project should attend a public hearing at 9 a.m. Monday at the county government complex and speak up.

Local and state governments across America are delaying capital-improvement projects in light of the country’s worsening fiscal crisis, which has driven up the interest rates on bonds and forced lenders to be stingier.

Governments are having to make hard choices about what’s desirable versus what’s essential — and about what’s urgent versus what can wait a few years.

Southampton County must demonstrate the same prudence.

The Courtland Wastewater Treatment System should — and will — be replaced eventually.

We won’t argue the point. County officials should give some serious thought, though, to the timing.