Ahoskie plans take detour

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

AHOSKIE – There’s a minor detour in Ahoskie’s plans to upgrade its Wastewater Treatment Plant.

At its July 10 meeting, members of the Ahoskie Town Council were informed that the bond package, one that will generate nearly $9.5 million of the $15 million project, may change. That change will allow the town to lock in a 4.125 percent interest rate as well as waiving the debt service reserve requirement (10 percent of the bond over a 10-year period).

The change comes in the form of switching from Revenue Bonds to a General Obligation bond (GEO). A GEO requires voter approval while Revenue Bonds can be okayed by a town council without the consent of the voters.

The upside of a GEO is that the 10 percent reserve requirement is waived. Additionally, a GEO is more secure than Revenue Bonds and can be approved locally by USDA/Rural Development.

“Anything over $5 million in Revenue Bonds must be reviewed by the USDA in Washington, D.C.,” Doug Causey of the USDA office in Greenville said. “If a GEO is approved by the voters, there is no need for the Washington office to review the project.”

Causey presented council members with an amended Letter of Conditions in regards to taking the issue from a Revenue Bond to a GEO.

Councilman Malcolm Copeland inquired if the change would delay the expansion project.

“DWQ (Division of Water Quality) has told us they would extend our SOC (Special Order of Consent; to continue the operation of the current treatment plant) if anything delays our financing package,” Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond said.

Hammond said he would speak with Hertford County Board of Elections Director Shelia Privott in regards to placing the GEO bond referendum on the November ballot. He added that if the bond was approved by the Ahoskie voters, the town would proceed in that manner with the $9.46 million loan. If the voters defeat the issue, the town can still proceed using Revenue Bonds.

The expansion plan for Ahoskie’s wastewater plant is scheduled to be completed by November of 2009.