Woodstock to move forward on plant project

WOODSTOCK — The town will borrow $3.5 million to upgrade its water treatment plant.

Town Council members reached consensus on Tuesday to authorize Town Manager Reid Wodicka to tell the Virginia Department of Health that Woodstock agrees to terms for a $3.5 million loan needed to build upgrades to Woodstock’s water treatment plant. Council didn’t need to take an official vote on the authorization, but Wodicka said Wednesday he still wanted to talk to members about moving forward.

Wodicka gave his presentation during council’s Finance Committee meeting about three major projects, including the water treatment plant upgrades, planned for the next five to seven years, all of which require that Woodstock borrow money to build.

The town will borrow the money at a rate of 2.25 percent for a term of 30 years. Wodicka told council that most loans are for a 20-year term. Wodicka on Wednesday called the agency’s terms “pretty favorable” and said the health department typically offers loans at 1 percent interest below the prime rate.

The extended period allows the town to make smaller, annual payments of approximately $144,000, Wodicka said. The department’s loan program allows the town to draw funds and then make payments once the project is complete, likely in fiscal year 2018, Wodicka said.

The town can avoid raising water rates by not making loan payments until fiscal 2018, Wodicka said.

“So what we try to do is plan these things out — to the extent that we can, and you certainly don’t know what’s going to happen — but to the extent that we can, we’re trying to reduce any kind of additional rate increases,” Wodicka said.

Another debt-service project would, once completed, increase parking space downtown. A transportation engineer working with the town determined in a parking study that Woodstock needs about 200 more public spaces downtown, Wodicka said. The study identified potential ways to add spaces and one project calls for the town to build a parking lot behind the Woodstock Cafe and the Walton & Smoot Pharmacy on Main Street. The first phase would create about 100 spaces. The land is privately owned and town officials are still working on coming up with an agreement with the owner, Wodicka said.

The town’s current budget doesn’t include funds for the parking lot project. Council would have to make a decision on how to proceed, but the project will be added to the town’s capital improvement program. Wodicka said the project likely would be scheduled in the program for the next fiscal year or the next.

The town would need to borrow money to proceed with the parking lot project.

The third project is the renovation of the former Woodstock High School and conversion to a new town administration building. The town also has not budgeted for the project, estimated to cost $2.5 million.

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