$2.7 mil awarded for plant costs
The Shepherdstown Town Council accepted a grant in the amount of 2.7 million as a reimbursement for costs incurred in the development of the corporation’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed-compliant wastewater treatment plant located, on East High Street.
The council signed a development agreement accepting the grant and returned it to it to the Water Development Authority during last month’s meeting.
The 800-gallon wastewater treatment plant is being paid for by a 30-year $9 million bond agreement and is the second of its type constructed in the state of West Virginia.
The plant was completed in fall 2012 to meet recently established Environmental Protection Agency standards for plants located along watershed areas.
Among other things, the new standards required greater vigilance in removing excess amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in the treatment of wastewater.
State legislator Sen. Herb Snyder worked in March 2012 to partially refund the town from costs associated with the project through an appropriations process.
In December 2011 the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council awarded the $2.7 million, after several months of consideration.
“He worked it out for us to get some money back,” Mayor Auxer said of Sen. Snyder.
“We’ve been waiting with anticipation.”
The grant will decrease the corporation’s quarterly principal bond payments from approximately $76,000 to approximately $55,000 according to the mayor.
In July 2011 the Corporation of Shepherdstown raised water and sewer rates for residents by 5 percent or 1.5 percent of median household income, in order to begin making payments on the $9 million bond.
The town borrowed the money at no percent interest, after agreeing to implement the rate increases with support from town residents, Mayor Auxer said.
In an interview Friday, he explained that the $2.7 million dollar reimbursement will not reduce those rates for customers, but will be put toward further infrastructure improvements to benefit the town.
“We borrowed the money at those rates so they can’t change,” he said.
Instead, Auxer and Public Works Director Frank Welch said the town is working on a project innovate biosolid waste removal for the town.
Working with the state environmental protection agency (DEP), the town hopes to distribute the biosolids on local farms rather then trucking the sludge to the landfill several times a week.
“We’re getting permits to take the waste and put in on farm We;ve got five farms lined up,” Auxer said. Additionally the project requires a storage facility that the town plans to finish constructing this year.
Money will also go toward operation and maintenance costs for the plant.
“Operation costs have gone up,” Welch said.
“This is advanced technology that we’ve got.”