OKANOGAN – Perry Huston, Okanogan County Planner, says there is still a possibility that the state Public Works Board might defer the loan used to build the Eastlake Sewer Project and make improvements to Oroville wastewater treatment system.
In 2004, the county applied and received a Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) pre-construction loan of $656,474 at .05 percent interest. In June 2006, the county received a $6,358,266 PWTF Construction loan at 2 percent interest for 20 years to construct the East Lake sewer system, which was completed in August of 2011. The interest on the loan was reduced to 1 percent after the county increased its local match to 10 percent. The payment debt is split 70 percent for the county and 30 percent for Oroville.
The county has made all its payments, but by 2014 the concern was there would not be enough revenue and reserve infrastructure funds to support debt repayments.
“The Public Works Board did agree to the 30 year option (Option 3), which would increase by 10 years the time the county and the city have to pay back the Public Works Trust Fund,” said Huston. “However, the question of deferral is still out there.”
In order for the county to accept the extension of the loan, the Board of Commissioners would have to approve an amendment. Once approved the county’s yearly principal payment would drop from $422,642 to $201,059 through the year 2036. As the number of connections has not been enough to service the debt, the county has been using .09 infrastructure funds to make up the difference. Huston, acting under instruction from the commissioners, was looking at various possibilities for making the payments, including forming a special assessment area for those living in the East Lake area.
“It appears there will be no need for a special assessment area and between connection fees, real estate excise taxes and .09 funds the county should be able to make the payments now that the loan has been extended. Probably with enough gas in three years or so with connection fees alone we will not need a special assessment area,” Huston said.
“The Public Works Board has asked for more information and left me with the impression they are also still looking at the deferral,” added Huston.
A four-year deferral, like that outlined in Option 2 of a report from the PTWF to the Public Works Board, would mean the county would not have to make payments on the principal or the interest for four years, giving it some breathing room in the hopes that revenues will increase in the next few years.