By Deb Patterson
WARSAW — “What a great day,” was a comment made following an emergency meeting of the Tippecanoe-Chapman Regional Sewer District Wednesday morning, Sept. 29. The meeting was called due to an offer from the USDA Rural Development of $36,609,332.23 in low interest loans and a grant for the district’s new sewer construction project.
The day was not only great, but a huge and monumental occasion for the district and its rate payers and customers. “This is a very good start,” Jon Tyler, district president stated with Ken Jones, Jones Petrie Rafinski noting “It’s a milestone, that’s for sure.”
The notification was received around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday by Tyler and following a three-way conference call between Tyler,an official with the local office of the USDA and Andrew Boxberger, attorney, an emergency meeting was called. The conference called revealed acceptance of the funds was needed by noon, Wednesday, just over 12 hours away.
The engineer’s estimated project cost is $42,097,000. With the funds provided by USDA, there is a shortfall of $5,487,667.77 to complete the project. However, it is anticipated the shortfall will come from the state revolving fund.
Boxberger explained $11.641 million will be a low interest loan, with an assumed interest rate of 1.75% amortized during 40 years. This loan will be made in three installments, two loans for $9.999 million and one loan at $4.97 million, as their maximum at one time is $10 million. “This will help with the rate a lot. The best part about that is in addition they are going to give a grant of $11.641 million for this project,” Boxberger stated.
He indicated officials at USDA said the $5.5 million shortfall will come from the state revolving fund. “They informed us they are on board with this funding,” said Boxberger. He indicated this could be in grant form, a bond anticipation note or low interest loan. “This will happen over the next several months.”
Boxberger noted if the board did not take action today “we lost this opportunity and it would be a significant damage to the rate payers and customers if we didn’t act quickly.”
There were only several questions asked by the board, specifically by Ed Ormsby. Ormsby questioned if someone was taking minutes and could this be done with only three members physically present. Only three of the five board members, Ormsby, Tyler and Brian Davison were present. Two other board members, Bob Weaver and Kim Hathaway joined the meeting virtually.
Boxberger stated the meeting was being recorded and the board was very lucky. “Our rural participation policy and a state statue passed just this year requires four members. However, there is an executive order, issued in 2020, that due to the public health emergency, it allows a public body to meet remotely … as long as they are online together. That (executive order) expires tomorrow. So based on that public health emergency we can take action.”
Additionally, Boxberger stated since there are a lot of moving pieces with this funding and action is being moved very quickly, he will be asking for a ratification of the action at the next regular meeting. “This is great and positive for the community and the district.”
The meeting was held at the Lakeland Regional Sewer District Office, CR 100N, Warsaw, due to the fact the North Webster Community Center is closed.