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County approves financing plans for Calabash, Sunset Beach sewer

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

BOLIVIA—Brunswick County commissioners have approved financing for sewer systems for Sunset Beach and Calabash, giving customers 10 years to pay the assessments in installments.

Those who pay their full assessments within 30 days will receive a 5 percent discount, as recommended by county finance director Ann Hardy, who presented the proposed agreements for approval at Monday night’s commissioners’ meeting.

According to Hardy, county utilities director Jerry Pierce anticipates awarding four contracts for the Sunset Beach project.

The estimated contract amounts are $10 million for the island sewer lines, $8 million for the mainland, $3.5 million for the vacuum station/force main and $5 million for the grinder pump station.

“He has taken steps to award one contract estimated at $8 million for the mainland portion around May 2009 contingent upon the award of economic stimulus grants or 0 percent or low-interest loans,” Hardy said.

If the county does not receive economic stimulus funds, Pierce plans to award three of the four contracts in September for the mainland, island and force main.

Officials plan to award the grinder pump station contract in late 2010.

Hardy said Sunset Beach Town Administrator Gary Parker sent the county a letter in August requesting the 10-year assessment period.

In addition to approving the installments, commissioners also approved a letter of engagement for investment banking services at a fee of $15,000 plus $500 out-of-pocket expenses for a private bank placement.

According to Hardy “At this time, it appears a private bank placement will best meet the needs of the county, but if that should change the recommended agreement engages Wachovia Securities to serve as the revenue bond underwriter.”

Commissioners approved a similar agreement for the Calabash project, although, Hardy said the town may now be considering sewer on smaller scope than originally planned.

If that’s the case, the 10-year installment plan will not be used, she said. Instead, the assessment period will be three annual payments.

Pierce anticipates awarding one contract for the Calabash project at an estimated cost of $5.5 million.

Before approving the agreements, commissioners asked whether the 30-day period could be extended. Hardy and county attorney Huey Marshall explained that 30 days is the maximum state law allows.

In other business Tuesday, the board approved rezoning a parcel of land on N.C. 211 from commercial-intensive to commercial-low density at the recommendation of the planning board.

According to planning director Leslie Bell, the planning staff recommended denying the property owner’s request because the area has no commercial-low density parcels surrounding it and it doesn’t necessarily qualify as a buffer area.

“We don’t like to see it being down-zoned,” Bell said.

Commissioners discussed the issue, then decided to take the planning board’s recommendation to approve the change, saying it would not harm the area.

Also on Tuesday, the county received a Storm Readiness Award from the National Weather Service, and the finance department received a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.