Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hard Labor Creek Management Board Still Waiting on Loan Documents From State

Oconee Approval Expected On Dec. 4

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board has revised its schedule for approval of the $32 million in loans the state is offering for construction of the reservoir because the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) has not yet provided the loan documents for review.

Project Manager Jimmy Parker told me today that he expects to receive the loan documents on Oct. 26 and that he anticipates that the Oconee County Board of Commissioners will approve the two loans at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Originally, Parker and the Management Board had expected to receive the documents by Oct 8, but Parker said GEFA is behind schedule because the documents are different from the ones the Authority usually writes. The loans are for 40 years, and GEFA usually makes loans for 20 years, Parker said earlier.

Parker 9/18/2012

Attorney Chris Atkinson, representing Walton County, and Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood will have to review the documents once the state provides them. In the original schedule, the attorneys had four days to do so.

Schedule Delayed A Month

Parker said today that the whole schedule will be pushed back a month, but he didn’t see any problems because of the delay. He has gone ahead with the prequalification for firms wanting to bid on construction of the dam and with the bidding for road relocation, he said.

The Management Board cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. The schedule called for the Board to approve the loans on that date and to send them forward to the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority and the Boards of Commissioners of the two counties for approval.

The 1,400-acre lake in southeastern Walton County is a joint project of the two counties.

GEFA Announced Loans on Aug. 1

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced on Aug. 1 that they had awarded two loans to Oconee and Walton counties for the reservoir as part of the Governor’s Water Supply Program.

The loan is part of a state effort to increase water supply. In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal announced a commitment of $300 million over four years for reservoir and water supply development as part of what he termed a Georgia Water Supply Program.

The larger loan for Walton and Oconee counties is for $20 million. The second loan is for $12 million.

Additional Money Needed

The state loans would give the two counties money to build the dam and create the reservoir. The loans would not provide sufficient money to build a water treatment plant or the distribution system for any water such a plant would produce.

To be able to actually treat and distribute water from the reservoir, the two counties would have to spend an estimated additional $80 million.

At present, neither county needs the water the reservoir will provide, and neither has the resources to borrow additional money in the market to finance the project.

Oconee County will assume 28.8 percent of the debt, based on the agreement signed by the two counties back in 2007. That translates to $9.2 million.

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