At an emergency meeting of the Stanley County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, the board added support to funding for the Oakborough sewer project.
“There is a lot of water and sanitation repair work needed,” County Governor Andy Lucas said, referring to the move of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry to Oakborough.
Lucas said the county received a $ 2.5 million grant from the Utilities Development Fund to help Oakborough build the water supply.
Stanley also received a $ 2.5 million grant from the Gold Leaf Foundation to build a water tower. The Golden Leaf Foundation, chaired by Albemarle attorney Charles Brown, disburses money from tobacco communities to increase economic opportunity in rural areas.
Lucas said the county’s goal is to get $ 3 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for sewer work in Oakborough.
However, the federal EDA said the district should provide funding at a 50-50 ratio. The money should also be available immediately.
Lucas said Oakborough City Administrator Doug Burgess said Oakborough would need to take out a loan. Since the EDA needs a letter by July 1 to show they have adequate funds, Burgess asked if the county could borrow Oakborough’s money.
Lucas said the new plant will use an average of 130,000 gallons of water per day on commissioning. Even if Oakborough gets a loan elsewhere, which he says they should get easily, the money from the sale of the water will cover the loan, and then a little.
For the letter, Lucas said, Oakborough needed to be shown that he had additional funds. Applying for a private placement loan takes longer than the July 1 grant deadline, which is why Oakborough applied to the county for temporary funding.
Commissioner Scott Efird asked if EDA is hesitant to approve the grant. Lucas said that due to the recent news of a drop in unemployment at Stanley, EDA “was really hard to justify” the grant.
Lucas also noted that the county is still in dire economic straits. The county “has a lot of commitments (but) we haven’t seen anything come out of the ground,” Lucas said of the proposed projects. He added that these commitments did not apply to Charlotte Pipe, which interrupted the construction of the new plant. (To view the related story, click here: https://www.thesnaponline.com/2021/03/24/local-state-officials-get-update-on-charlotte-pipe-plant-in-oakboro/)
Chairman Bill Louhon asked if the county loan would be converted into specified terms if Oakborough needed the county’s money before private loans were available. Lucas said he would.
Commissioner Lane Furr went over to approving a potential loan, backed by Vice Chairman Tommy Jordan, and the petition passed 6-0. Commissioner Zach Almond did not attend Thursday’s meeting.