By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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County commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the Clallam County Public Utility District on Tuesday that reaffirms the county’s commitment to repay a $10 million state loan that will fund the design and construction of a Class A wastewater collection, treatment and reclaimed water reuse system for the urban growth area west of Sequim.
The county will repay the Public Works Trust Fund loan through its Opportunity Fund — sales tax revenue earmarked for public infrastructure projects that lead to economic development — over 30 years at 0.5 percent interest.
Clallam County has already spent $638,000 on the $13.9 million sewer project and set aside another $4.3 million in a special fund.
PUD commissioners approved the interlocal agreement last Monday.
“Basically it’s an interlocal agreement between us and the PUD that primarily speaks to the fact that we are going to take over the project from stem to stern now,” County Administrator Jim Jones said in last week’s business meeting.
The PUD received the loan because “that’s the way the Legislature awarded it,” Jones said in a later interview.
Originally, the state loan was to be paid back through a local improvement district comprised of Carlsborg residents and business owners. Formation of the junior taxing district was later determined not feasible.
Under the terms of the interlocal agreement, the county “shall be solely responsible for all project planning, design, permitting, and construction, and, upon completion of the project, shall own, operate, maintain and repair the system.”
The agreement also states that the debt will become a general obligation of the county.
“We’re taking it all over,” Jones said.
The PUD will execute the loan contract and assign the funds to the county.
“I would expect that to happen in the very near future,” said Clallam County Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin, who has been involved in the project since 1995.
Once the paperwork on the loan is completed, the county will hire consultants to design a gravity collection system and to study the costs and benefits of treating the sewage at a new facility in Carlsborg or piping it to the existing treatment plant in Sequim.
“I think it’s more likely it will go to Sequim,” Martin said.
If the Sequim alternative is deemed to be the most cost-effective, the county would need to negotiate an agreement with the city of Sequim.
The long-planned project is scheduled to be finished in November 2015.
According to a time line announced at a December summit of county commissioners, Sequim City Council members and PUD board President Ted Simpson, most of the design will occur this year with discussion of a user-fee ordnance in 2014.
Carlsborg needs a sewer in order for its urban growth area to comply with state law.
In 2008, a Growth Management Act hearings board deemed the UGA as invalid and non-compliant because it lacked adequate infrastructure.
Carlsborg businesses, which support more than 1,000 jobs, need the UGA status to expand.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.