Stormwater authority borrows $2 million from Fayette

When Fayette County voters turned down a countywide 1 percent sales tax last year, it meant that the county commission had to find another way to fund its eight most crucial stormwater projects: ones that posed flooding or safety threats in the unincorporated county.

While the smaller-cost projects will be paid for with revenue from the county’s stormwater fee, the three most expensive projects will benefit from a $2 million loan from the county government’s general fund proposed by county staff. The loan would be paid back with revenue from the annual stormwater fee at about $250,000 a year with a minimal interest rate, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

The loan will not put the county in financial peril because there are roughly $30 million in cash reserves on hand, though some are restricted for certain purposes such as emergencies and the like, Rapson said.

“If we have the money in the bank, it really makes no sense to borrow money,” Rapson said, noting that the county is financially healthy.

The stormwater loan would be halfway repaid by the time the projects are expected to be complete, Rapson added.

The lion’s share of the $2 million loan will go toward the projected $1.72 million cost of improving the Emerald Lake dam in The Woodlands subdivision off South Jeff Davis Drive. The work will provide operational improvements and needed maintenance for a body of water that could threaten lives or property downstream if the dam were to be breached, county officials have said.

The project will need easements from multiple property owners and the design work will be complete by June, according to county estimates.

Another dam project will cost the county an estimated $469,000: the Longview/Phillips dam off Longview Road north of Fayetteville. The county is looking into changes to the dam and the road, but a decision has yet to be made as to breaching the dam or rebuilding it.

The other costly dam upgrade project, for the Kozisek Dam, has an estimated tab of $250,000 and will require “significant coordination” with one property owner to acquire the necessary right of way.

Three other smaller projects would be implemented solely with stormwater operating funds: repairs to flooding areas on Brittany Way, Lawson Lane and Oak Street. All three of those projects total $220,000.