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Posted November 2, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Hearing Monday on Strasburg wastewater plant

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg residents can weigh in on a proposed multimillion-dollar upgrade to the town's wastewater treatment plant at a public hearing Monday.

Town Council plans to hold the first of two public hearings on funding resolutions that, if approved at a meeting later this month, would limit borrowing for the project to $24.3 million.

The project seeks to expand the capacity of the plant and implements technology needed to remove more nutrients from wastewater as required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The total cost of the project is not yet determined, but officials should know next Thursday. Firms interested in constructing the project had until this past Thursday afternoon to submit bids. Staff extended the deadline a week as a result of superstorm Sandy, according to Town Manager Judson Rex. The delay would not affect the project schedule nor efforts to secure funding, Rex said Friday.

Strasburg received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for up to $24,341,000 in financing through the agency's Rural Development program for the upgrade project. The program requires council to hold a public hearing and approve resolutions authorizing the issuance of bonds for up to the approved amount before the town can prepare closing documents.

"We're required to do one by Rural Development on the night of the vote, but we also wanted to do one a week in advance so we give people more opportunity to give their input," Rex said.

Staff does not anticipate borrowing the full $24.3 million because the town has arranged for grants and other loans. Staff has recommended council approve the resolutions for up to the amount.

A value engineering analysis on the project reduced the estimated cost by $2 million to the current $24.3 million, according to Rex.

The town received approval for grants of $3,185,417 from the DEQ Water Quality Improvement Fund and $1.5 million in rural development funding. Strasburg officials expected a smaller grant from the DEQ. The larger grant amount means less the town must borrow to pay for the project, Rex has explained.

The town also would borrow $12 million, at 0 percent interest for 25 years, from the state Revolving Loan Fund, plus $7,794,428, at a rate of 2.5 percent for 40 years, from Rural Development.

Council anticipates taking action on the resolutions at its Nov. 13 meeting and thus scheduled the required public hearing on that date.

Also on Monday, council plans to view an informational presentation from staff on a proposed water storage tower for the town. Plans call for a construction of a tower between the Crystal Hill and Madison Heights housing developments, near the end of Crystal Lane.

After the presentation, council will take comments from the public and then discuss the proposal.

The town had funds remaining after the completion of the new water treatment plant. In order to use leftover money, council decided to spend the funds on a water modeling study of the town. The study recommended the town build a water storage tank, Rex explained. Strasburg owns land by the Crystal Hill and Madison Heights developments and the current proposal is to construct the water tower on that site.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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