(Posted Jan. 19, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Messenger Editor
The Madison County commissioners plan to make bigger loan payments over a shorter time period to save millions on expansion of water service at I-70 and U.S. Route 42.
On Jan. 17, Kevin Wood of IBI Group, the planning and engineering firm over-seeing the project, presented the commissioners with two financing options for the $7.6 million project.
The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) offers a 30-year loan; the current interest rate is 3 percent. The Environ-mental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a 20-year loan; the current interest rate is 2.2 percent.
The EPA option would cost the county $86,500 more per year but, due to the shorter loan period, would save the county an estimated $2.1 million over the OWDA loan. Rob Slane, county administrator, suggested that the county consider loaning itself the $86,500 yearly to get started, with the idea that once the plant is online, customer fees will offset those costs.
Wood noted that the EPA loan comes with more restrictions and requirements should environmental issues arise before construction starts. If issues are discovered, he said, the county has the option to switch to the less restrictive OWDA loan.
“We have a certain level of confidence, though, that the environmental factor will be minimal,” said Slane, who has been working closely with Wood and IBI on researching financing options.
“We don’t have any stream crossings that would normally hold things up,” added Bryan Dhume, county engineer.
The wells are already drilled and known to produce an ample amount of good quality water. The next step is the design phase, estimated to cost $586,000. The commissioners gave IBI the go-ahead to apply for a short-term EPA loan to finance this phase. The loan can be rolled into the larger construction loan when that time comes.
The commissioners awarded IBI the contract to do the design work, which includes creating plans for the water treatment plant, storage tank, and infrastructure. The plant will be located on the same property as the wells, at the northwest corner of the intersection of I-70 and Route 42.
Now that financing plans are in place, the county wants to move quickly toward completion of the project. The goal is to complete the construction by early 2018 and start producing water shortly thereafter, Slane said.
“We’ve got a lot of interest in that area,” he added, regarding potential business development.