WINNSBORO — In its search for a sustainable water source, the Town of Winnsboro is also searching for ways to fund such a vast project.
Councilman Clyde Sanders suggested council schedule a work session with Margaret Pope of the Pope Zeigler Law Firm, which guided the town’s attempt to form a regional water authority.
Sanders said he would like to get the firm back to the table so council could inquire about the town’s different options to procure money at a low rate.
The town is looking for direction in funding a project to secure water from Lake Monticello, which holds a price tag from $8-$12 million.
Mayor Roger Gaddy said he had talked about options with Town Manager Don Wood previously and discovered since the town has a joint utility system, it might not necessarily need to limit the debt service to one revenue stream.
“We need to let Don (Wood) get some more information on that and then schedule a work session,” Gaddy noted.
Wood advised council that he believed the town had an ordinance that restricted how the town could pay back a loan.
“Have an ordinance that says the utility benefits from a particular loan the debt service will be repaid by the revenue produced by that utility, which would imply that if we got this $8-$10 million dollar loan that water rates would have to support the debt service on that and put them very high,” he stated.
However there is now conflicting information, because Wood told council a State Revolving Loan Fund representative told the town that if it has a joint utility system it could use the combined revenues to pay back the bond.
“She implied that state law says as long as you have a combined utility operation then it s not limited to just the utility that would benefit from the bond,” Wood explained. “That would be the only way we could pay the debt service on a bond. The state revolving loan fund says when you have a combined utility operation, that all utilities is legal for them to use part of their revenues to pay back the debt service. That would be gas, electric, water and sewer as opposed to just water itself. That’d be the only way we could afford to pay that loan.”
Gaddy tasked Wood with verifying some of the information before presenting it back to council.
There is one other option that was presented last month by Jim Landmeyer, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, which is to conduct a ground water study.
According to Landmeyer, there is no such study on record for Fairfield County.
However, Gaddy said council has not made any movements on that front.
“We have not talked with the county about that,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting. “The cost is about $200,000 and is a three-year study. We took that under advisement but have not done anything about it.”
South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority Chairman Robert Hitt informed the town through a letter that it has been approved for a basic infrastructure grant worth $241,000 for the 11th Street Pump Station project. The grant will address a critical need for the community.
“We look forward to working with you to build a great infrastructure capacity and create opportunities in the rural areas of South Carolina,” Hitt wrote.