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Mecklenburg trustees take look at shorter school day

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Authority seek bids for two projects / July 24, 2017

The Halifax County Service Authority on Thursday night confirmed that bids will go out in early August for the Cowford Road Pump Station and Force Main and for the Sutphin Interceptor Upgrade projects. While the bids will be sought separately, the date for release of the bids and the construction schedule will be the same.

Funding for the two projects is being provided by a loan from Rural Development USDA, with interim funding being provided by Benchmark Community Bank.

Bids are expected to be awarded in September with work on both projects expected to begin in October.

According to Matt Pillow of Wiley/Wilson work on the Cowford Road project is expected to be completed within 18 months, in April 2019.

Scott Ehrhardt of Dewberry Engineers, which is overseeing the Sutphin project, said that project should be completed within ten months by July 2018.

Trustees also approved a resolution assuring USDA that the Authority will raise base sewer rates from the current $35 to $38.50 in January 2019 in order to be able to guarantee that funds are available to make the loan payments.

Directors also approved the interim financing provided by Benchmark Community Bank with an increase of the interest rate on the 36 month loan of $1.4 million from the earlier 2.25 percent rate to 2.99 percent with a Dec. 31, closing date. “That’s still a great rate,” said chairman Dexter Gilliam, who noted that interest rates have gone up across the board over the past several months.

In other business, Authority director Mark Estes said he and other staff members will meet with representatives of local governing bodies to determine if there is anything that can be done to help local home developers who had sought relief from facility fees charged by the Authority. Both John Cannon and Christian Roberts came to HSCA in June saying that the $2,700 for water and sewer fee connections were placed a heavy burden on developers of new homes. They noted that they had personally paid fees (which had earlier been $750 for water and $750 for sewer). They had asked that the Authority return to the earlier fee schedule which amounted to a difference of some $1,250 per home.

But trustees denied the developers’ requests, noting that because the Authority had secured a loan from USDA for the Maple Avenue Wastewater Treat Plant they had assured USDA no fees would be lowered, thereby assuring USDA that money would be available to pay the loan payments.

Earlier, director Bill Snead, who said he worried that the increased fees are preventing developers from continuing to build new homes, had asked for an accounting of the facility fees paid by the developers between 2008 -2017. That accounting showed that the fees paid totaled $213,080.

Estes also advised directors that work on the Vaughan Street sewer line was expected to be completed by the end of the week after having paid some $30,000 to fix the problems there. He also advised directors that two operators at the wastewater treatment plant have been certified to carry out sampling of the water which will correct a technical error which was found later by the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) which has subsequently posted a notice of violence at the facility.

By doing the in-house sampling at an estimated cost of $15,000 the process will prevent having to outsource the sampling at a cost of some $76,000.

Following a closed session, directors approved a resolution authorizing the acquisition of a 12,546.25 square easement for a permanent sanitary sewer system, a 20 foot construction and maintenance easement and a 40 foot temporary construction easement over the property from the owner of the property who could not be located.

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