County Council to consider $1.5m claim for Sewer South ‘cash flow’
By Norm Canada
WALHALLA – Oconee County Council is set to consider a request tonight to provide $1.5 million to the Oconee Joint Regional Sewer Authority to help cover ongoing out-of-pocket expenses during the construction of the Sewer South project.
Under the application, OJRSA would return the full $1.5 million to the county once all expenses for Sewer South were paid.
OJRSA board member Bob Faires recently asked County Administrator Amanda Brock to present the proposal to the board. Sewer Authority executive director Chris Eleazer said OJRSA has kept $1.5 million in a restricted account to cover running expenses at Sewer South, and the county is reimbursing the agency for the bills.
Faires told the Journal last week that the money would allow the cash-strapped sewers authority to transfer the $1.5 million to an “unrestricted” account to give officials more flexibility in management. capital needs of OJRSA, while preventing the sewer authority from using money paid by its three member cities for projects outside the jurisdictions of Seneca, Walhalla and Westminster.
Brock said he received a letter from Council of Appalachian Governments Executive Director Steven R. Pelissier endorsing OJRSA’s request. In the letter, Pelissier said the money would help sewer authority officials improve “their practices for managing and accounting for payments associated with (the) EDA grant.”
“At various times during the grant period, the delay in approving funds for payments has delayed progress on this project,” Pelissier wrote. “This is a requirement of the EDA (federal grant). Expenses associated with this project must be paid prior to grant repayment.”
Brock said the letter was requested “just to have documentation showing that it is holding money aside for the purchase of materials for the repayment of the grant deficit.”
“The sewer authority, from what I understand, has a cash flow problem, and there has been a request that Oconee County provide this funding in an escrow to be repaid once the repayments come in from federal and state governments,” she added. “Bob and I were just talking about the cash flow for the sewer authority, and the grant is obviously a repayable grant.
“They are going to have a cash flow problem when it comes to buying all the supplies and materials up front. One of the big purchases, according to the engineers’ estimate, is $1 million.
The sewer authority received more than $5.29 million in federal, state, and local funds to extend sewer service to both Interstate 85 exits. Most of that money was a 3 $.7 million from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). . OJRSA also received $935,566 from the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) and $655,570 from the county.
The county council spent about $9 million about six years ago to install pipes and a pumping station at Golden Corner Commerce Park and run sewer lines to the Coneross sewage treatment facility. , which is operated by OJRSA. These lines, called Sewer South Phase 1, are owned by Oconee County and will connect to the new lines, called Sewer South Phase 2, which will be owned by OJRSA.
Residents of southern Oconee County have been talking about the need to extend sewer service to the area for decades, and the long-dreamed project is getting closer to reality. Eleazer said recently that he could see construction begin on the estimated 13-month project “within the next two months.”
[email protected] | (864) 973-6680