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East-end sewage plant to cost $30 million
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The Liberty County Development Authority has decided to borrow up to $30 million to fund construction of a large, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant to serve East Liberty.
The LCDA reportedly has good terms for the loan from Suntrust Bank, with interest rates said to be better than those offered by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.
GEFA was established by the state to offer low-cost loans for infrastructure development.
Authority members thought long and hard before deciding to build an “MBR” plant, the most advanced type available and costs $10 million more than a more conventional facility.
“In a way, that’s 10 million reasons why we should not build the MBR,” said authority member Brian Smith, although he ended up voting for the high-tech option.
Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe said, “This is a tough decision ... but I think we really do need to do the very best we can in this fragile environment.”
The MBR membrane process produces a cleaner output than more conventional wastewater treatment plants, although conventional plants do meet all current requirements.
County Commission Chairman John McIver said he was concerned about the environment, but seemed worried also about the money.
“We should be sure to pass the cost back to the users. The taxpayers should not pay for this,” he said.
When the ballots were cast, McIver’s was the lone no vote.
The LCDA has approved impact fees of $4,573 per equivalent residential unit for users of its sewer service.
Using this fee calculation, the Foram Group would pay $1,189.027 for its planned developments; IDI, $1,600,613 and Glebe Martin Plantation, $5,335,377.
Zero impact fees are shown for Target and The Tire Rack, the two current tenants of the LCDA’s Tradeport East Park.
Member Graylan Quarterman said he knew of “no state or federal grants that will help us out with this. We have two EPA grants on hold now.”
LCDA CEO Ron Tolley said the authority planned to use some form of tax-free financing to pay for the loan, such as bonds.
He told the authority, “We have some other sources of revenue we haven’t shown yet, but they will be coming in the next couple of years.”
The MBR plant could come online in 2009 and the authority has projected flows that it could handle in three phases through 2033.
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