By Wayne Allen
Common Staff Writer
Scioto County is in jeopardy of losing nearly $30 million for a Minford sewer project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said if the project is not under construction or a contract is not signed for construction by July 31.
The USDA sent a letter to the Scioto County Commissioners dated Jan. 30 expressing their concerns.
“We are concerned that your project has not advanced to the construction stage and that the Recovery (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds approved for your project may be in jeopardy if progress on your project is not made soon,” wrote J. Anthony Logan, USDA state director.
Scioto County Sanitary Engineer Joe Delong said the county is working on gaining easements to proceed with the project.
“We need 740 easements and we have 355 at this point,” Delong said. “We are hoping that people will be cooperative and know we are under the gun. This is quite a bit of money and we are never going to get this chance again.”
Delong said his department is working as hard as they can to make this project a reality.
“We are going to be right against the deadline, in getting this project underway. I hope within the next month we can have a good idea who is going to sign and who is not, then we will have to decide what we are going to do,” Delong said. “There is no reason to give up hope we are going to continue to work hard at it.”
Delong said for the project to proceed the county must have access to all the necessary easements.
The $29 million in funding is offered from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) through the USDA Rural Development through a $14,912,000 loan and a $14, 507,000 grant.
The project calls for the installation of 30 miles of sewer mains, a new wastewater treatment plant and other things.
The proposed project will provide sewage service to 1,327 existing homes along with modest growth capacity for the entire service area.
Logan also wrote that if the project is not under construction or under a contact for construction by July 31 a request could be made to the White House Office of Management & Budget for a waiver.
“The agency will consider making a request for a waiver to OMB with the information you provide. Waivers will be requested sparingly so the reason for delay must be well-documented and show extenuating circumstances,” Logan wrote.
“I was given no reason to believe that we would get away with it (an extension),” Delong said.