Milton officials will seek a state loan to upgrade its water system, but the town will not pursue an interconnection with a private utility or build a new elevated storage tank.
Town council unanimously voted Jan. 24 to move forward with an application to the Office of Drinking Water to borrow money from the state revolving fund to rehabilitate or replace an offline well, loop its main into the Wagamon's West Shores community, repair the water tower at Shipbuilder's Village and make other upgrades to the system. Councilwomen Marion Jones and Kristin Patterson were absent for the vote. Following the recommendation of the water committee, council will not pursue building a new water tower or connecting its system with a private utility this year.
“We still haven't gotten a full accounting of the water,” said Mayor Cliff Newlands. “We have a deadline to meet with the state as far as getting loans, so we felt taking out the water tower would be best so we could get some money this year.”
Newlands said he didn't feel the town's efforts to find the missing water is reflected in the numbers. Another year will give town officials enough time to show how much their efforts have curbed the problems, he said. While many upgrades, such as meter replacement, have already occurred, he said, there is still work to be done. Officials suspect much of the unaccounted for water is falling back into the wells after being pumped, so they are installing a new valve that will show how much water is repumped.
By holding off on a water tower for at least another year, Newlands said, residents will also have more time to educate themselves on the needs of the town's water system.
At its Monday, Feb. 4 meeting, council is expected to pass a resolution stating its intention to hold a referendum to borrow money. A public hearing will be held at a later meeting to educate residents about the town's plans before they head to the polls 30 to 60 days later.
The town is applying to borrow $1.525 million. Newlands said the 30-year loan would likely come with a 1.5 percent interest rate. He was unsure if the state would offer principal forgiveness. When the town applied for a loan to build a new water tower last year, the state offered 35 percent principal forgiveness and a 1 percent interest rate. Newlands said state officials say there would be no principal forgiveness next year.
If passed by the townspeople, Milton would repay about $60,000 annually. In last year's proposal, the repayment would have been reflected in residents' water bills. Newlands said it has not yet been discussed if water bills will be affected if the referendum is passed.
Water upgrades costs
$50,000 for testing and permitting
$250,000 for well pump upgrades
$160,000 for drilling
$120,000 for well head
$250,000 for treatment facility upgrades
$50,000 for control system
$250,000 for water main to Wagamon's West Shores
$50,000 for Shipbuilder's water tower repair
$345,000 for engineering and other costs
$1.525 million is total amount to be borrowed