Landis gets loan for water project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — Long-awaited water system improvements can now begin thanks in part to some loan assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Rural Utilities Service, a division of the Agriculture Department, is providing the $470,000 loan the town board signed off on at its Monday meeting.
The loan carries an interest rate of 2.75 percent, which is lower than the 4.38 percent interest rate the town got on a 2008 loan from the federal agency.
Once Rural Utilities Service makes the loan, the town can make a written request that the interest rate be the lower rate in effect at the time of loan approval.
Landis will also have to contribute $11,306 to the project, which is covered by the town’s water fund. The total loan amount from the Agriculture Department is nearly $3.37 million. The town has already gotten a Rural Development grant of $1 million and a $200,000 State and Tribal Assistance Grant, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection,
That brings the project to more than $4.5 million.
Allen Hart with the Agriculture Department told the board the town benefitted by the delays in receiving a lower interest rate.
Efforts for this project began in 2007 when the state indicated the town needed to make necessary improvements or face fines.
In November 2007, voters approved $6.7 million in bonds for the water and sewer projects.
By using bonds, the town would get a lower interest rate and be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture grants.
In 2008, the Agriculture Department agreed to provide the town with more than $5 million to upgrade the aging water and sewer systems.
The project has languished for some time. In February 2009, town leaders decided to go after federal stimulus money to replace the loan. The town did not get any grants during that time.
The town will focus on the water portion of the project for now, said Town Manager Reed Linn.
The sewer project will begin at a later time. Bids have not been received on the sewer project.
“At a point in time, all the projects could be going on at one time,” Linn said.
At a specially called meeting in early March, the town board accepted a bid from Sanders Utility Construction in Charlotte, the lowest bidder.
The bid amount was for nearly $2.29 million, which is within the funding available for the project.
Town Engineer Mike Acquesta expects construction will begin in May.
Linn estimates this to be a two-year construction project.
“It’s a project that is overdue, and the town has needed it for a long time,” he said. “We are excited that we are very close to being able to finally see some dirt moving.”
The improvements are meant to address water quality issues. Work will include the replacement of smaller water mains with 12-inch water mains, abandoning old waterlines and installing two new booster pump stations.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.