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Ahoskie opts to increase bond

AHOSKIE – The financial ceiling has been raised.

As Ahoskie moves along on a project to upgrade its Wastewater Treatment Plant, town officials have met and maneuvered around several minor roadblocks. One of those potential barricades was averted here Tuesday during a meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council.

Before council members placed their approval on two resolutions regarding the improvement project, Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond suggested raising the ceiling of the General Obligation Wastewater Bonds from $9.5 million to $11.8 million. Those bonds, coupled with grants from several different sources, will help pay for the $15.364 million project.

“With the exception of one grant we did not receive, everything is in place for this project,” Hammond said. “I would just feel safer if we increase the amount of the general obligation bonds to $11.8 million. All we’re doing is raising the ceiling of what we can borrow. If we stick to the $9.5 million figure and the final costs we pay for comes in at $10 million, then we’ve got to come up with $500,000 from somewhere.”

Hammond knows for sure that a $750,000 STAG grant was not awarded to the town.

“Nobody faired well in the latest round of STAG grants,” Hammond noted. “As a matter of fact, only two were awarded in our part of the state, Wilson and Rocky Mount.”

Hammond said he was not giving-up on attempting to locate other grant revenue streams.

As for the resolutions passed on Tuesday, they dealt with the responsibilities the town faces to repay the money, calling for a public hearing on the bonds and certifying the need for a referendum. As required by law, Ahoskie voters will have to approve the issuance of general obligation bonds.

At a meeting in early July, council members approved a measure that switched the project funding from revenue bonds to general obligation bonds. That was done in an effort 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).

If the voters opt against the general obligation bonds, the town can still proceed with the project through revenue bonds.

With Tuesday’s approved resolutions in hand, Hammond can officially proceed with placing the bond referendum on the November ballot.

The expansion plan for Ahoskie’s wastewater plant is scheduled to be completed by November of 2009. That plan calls for a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant capable of processing 1.8 million gallons per day. Of that amount, up to 1.3 million gallons will be piped daily to Nucor Steel of Hertford County for industrial reuse. Another 300,000 gallons of treated wastewater will be applied daily to the town’s existing sprayfields. Any remaining wastewater not needed by Nucor or that cannot be handled by the sprayfields will be discharged into the Ahoskie Creek.