SILER CITY — The Siler City Board of Commissioners hosted a special meeting Monday to guarantee an option for $14.5 million in loan money to fund wastewater infrastructure enhancement.
The board adopted three resolutions accepting the conditions of USDA loans for $7 million, $6 million and $1.5 million — all of which it would use for improving the town’s sewer system. The vote did not obligate Siler City to accept the loans, only the terms of their offer.
“The reason I had asked the board to call this meeting was because we have a deadline for this approval, which is Sept. 30,” Town Manager Roy Lynch said. “... This tonight is only stating that the board intends to accept the terms of a contract.”
The town must host a public hearing in coming months, Lynch added, to discuss whether Siler City is fiscally stable enough to assume millions of dollars in new debt.
“And then at that point would be when you can make actual commitment,” he said.
While the commissioners emphasized the importance of wastewater improvements, some expressed apprehension about their cost.
“Don’t take anything I’m saying as me being against it,” Commissioner Chip Price said. “But we have worked so hard from a financial standpoint to become financially stable as a town, and I just don’t want us to get away from that ... I just want to make sure we’re not headed off down a rabbit hole somewhere.”
If the town accepts USDA’s loan offers, they will come with a 40-year term and a 1.375% interest rate.
“So it’s a very low rate,” Lynch said.
Estimated annual payments of $471,482 would begin after the wastewater project’s completion. Total interest over the life of the loan would be about $4.5 million.
Already, the town has secured about $7.6 million in grant funds, which are being used in phase one of a two-step wastewater renovation and expansion project. By the end of 2022, Siler City will have replaced much of its wastewater equipment, modified the aeration system, upgraded process control systems and provided standby generator upgrades to improve operation during power outages. Such improvements will reduce contaminants in the town’s discharge, limiting pollution into the Rocky River.
Phase two will cover new infrastructure development. To accommodate real estate growth and ensure adequate flow needs are met for the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) Site and other developing commercial areas, phase two will expand the wastewater treatment plant’s capacity from 4 million gallons per day to 6 million gallons per day.
Despite increased flow rate, plant modifications will further reduce discharge of nitrogen and other contaminants. The project will also include a new influent pump station, UV disinfection, a solids handling facility and replacement of more than a mile of sewer main.
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @dldolder.
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