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Town plant to be partially refunded

By Staff | Jun 3, 2011

State Sen. Herb Snyder spoke at the water and sanitary board meeting Thursday, May 26 to reaffirm Shepherdstown will be refunded by state excess lottery money for the water plant under construction.

Due to the Chesapeake Bay Initiative plants in the surrounding area must start to comply to Environmental Protection Agency standards to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Shepherdstown took note of these changes and immediately built a plant up to the new standards.

According the EPA website, “Approximately 17 million people live within the Bay watershed. The Bay provides significant economic and recreational benefits, estimated to exceed $33 billion annually, to the watershed’s population.”

The Chesapeake Bay initiative is to help protect the area through regulating watershed. Shepherdstown was proactive when EPA released new standards for water plants to comply and began construction on a $9.1 million waste water treatment plant.

According to Sen. Snyder, 43 cents to up to 50 cents on the dollar, depending on the value of the public bond increasing or decreasing, will be refunded to Shepherdstown from excess video lottery money.

Other areas in the watershed will be given grants as well despite different places they are in the project. Shepherdstown’s plant is nearly finished compared to Martinsburg’s $45-million undertaking.

“It was a matter of fairness,” Snyder said.

He said just because Shepherdstown began its plant before Senate Bill 245 passed during the latest legislative session approving the allocation of lottery funds, the town should not be punished for being proactive.

Snyder said the lottery monies will fund 40 percent of municipalities’ project costs, while utility payers pay the other 60 percent. If it weren’t for this bill, Snyder said, 100 percent of the costs would be paid by ratepayers.

Snyder said that money, in the form of $6 million grants, will be distributed to the eight counties in the watershed region every year up to 30 years. The money is estimated to start being dispersed in 18 months. And, according to the bill, extra $3 million will also be given to Greenbrier County to fund Greenbrier River watershed compliance projects. If Greenbrier doesn’t take the extra $3 million it will be dispersed evenly to the rest of the eight counties.

“It is too early to tell what we will do with the refunded money,” Mayor Jim Auxer said.

Some ideas given by the board were to lower the water rates in town or undertake other projects. One project mentioned was to extend town water to Mecklenberg Heights, increasing the customer base of the new water treatment plant. Also the project would assist water problems in Mecklenberg Heights, such as overflowing septic tanks.