West Wildwood Borough held a special meeting on Wednesday, May 26th at 9AM via Zoom and with approximately 25 taxpayers participating.
In attendance were Mayor Fox, Commissioner Golden, Commissioner Korobellis, Solicitor Bittner, and Municipal Clerk Donna Frederick.
A first reading of Ordinance 580 (2020) was read providing for a $2,310,000 bond for Sewer Utility Improvements on Poplar Avenue and on G Avenue.
Resolution 2020-042 was then passed to create a capital budget to support the bond fund.
Mayor Fox highlighted the importance of Ordinance 580 and the availability of $1.3m in grant money to offset the costs of these infrastructure improvements. Commissioners Golden and Korobellis echoed their support for this ordinance.
There will be a second reading and public hearing on the ordinance on June 8th at 9AM via zoom. Online access and the meeting agenda will be posted on the Borough’s official website at least 48 hours in advance. The meeting was originally scheduled for June 10th but was rescheduled to the earlier date as advertised on the Borough website.
Public comments / questions included the following:
There were a number of questions related to the scope of the project and how it was different from the prior, rescinded ordinance. Follow-up after the meeting was done to get additional clarification and the discussion below is a summary of the prior and current projects:
The rescinded Ordinance 578 (2020) included the scope of sewer replacement, street raising and paving on Poplar Avenue from Arion to G, in addition to paving only on G Avenue from Poplar to Glenwood. The funding for that project would be from multiple sources. There is a Department of Transportation (DOT) grant in the amount of $156,000 for Arion @ Poplar and the balance, if approved by the USDA, would be a 50% grant of $797,000 and a low interest, 40-year loan of $797,000. The G Avenue part of the project was to be funded by a different DOT grant in the amount of $160,000. A successful petition to stop the bond was received and the ordinance was rescinded at the Regular Borough meeting in March.
The newly introduced Ordinance 580 (2020) for $2,310,000 encompasses the same scope of the prior project and adds the replacement of the sewer lines on G Avenue as well. This bond consists of $1.3m in total grants and a maximum $983k USDA low interest loan. That’s approximately 56% in funding that we don’t have to pay back. Also, under the USDA program, the Borough is permitted to use the DOT grant monies as down payment money. The down payment is usually 5% of the total project. The net effect should be about $35k in loan payments from the sewer utility annually, beginning in 2021. The effect on the sewer rate is hard to determine at this point, however, the benefits of the reduced water infiltration is likely to offset most of the loan cost. Another benefit of approving the bond now is the historically low interest rates. The expected rate is around 1.8%.
Although the sewer replacement project has grown in scope and cost, with the award of USDA and DOT grant funds that do not require repayment, combined with low interest rates, this provides a valued improvement to the Borough’s infrastructure and given the information available at this time, the CTWWW Advisory Board supports this bond ordinance. The BOWW governing body has agreed to explore securing other grants that focus on other areas of the island that require immediate attention.
There was also a question on COVID grants that the Borough could get. There is already a $10k grant awarded from Emergency Management and additional opportunities are being investigated.