Benson Moving Ahead With $2.8 Million Sewer Project

The Benson Board of Commissioners has given the green light for plans to renovate the town’s sewer system. A project that will include a $2.8 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Town Manager Matt Zapp told The Daily Record the project will help streamline the current system.

“It will help us tremendously,” he said. “We will be able to replace some wastewater pumps and eliminate two others.”

The project calls for the elimination of sanitary sewer pump stations on Lakeshore Drive and Boardwalk Avenue.

It further calls for improvements to the pump stations on South Walton Avenue and Carolyn Drive.

“These improvements will provide for future growth near I-95 at Exit 79 and along the Highway 242 North corridor,” Mr. Zapp said.

The loan, which Mr. Zapp told the board of commissioners he anticipates will total $2,802,000, will be paid off over an estimated 40-year period with an interest rate of 1.625 percent.

“You can’t get a competitive loan commercially for that low of an interest rate,” he said. “Plus it’s a non-committal loan. If something happens to prevent us from moving forward we aren’t tied to the loan.”

In order to pay for the loan, Mr. Zapp anticipates there will be a future base rate adjustment of anywhere from $3 to $3.50.

The base rate currently sits at $10.

“We’re trying to keep it as reasonable as possible,” he said. “We have quite a few other projects in the cue and the more customers we add, the lower the adjustment will be.”

One big help to keeping the cost of the adjustment lower in the future would come from a proposed hotel near Interstate 95.

Mr. Zapp said the anticipated timeline for the new Hampton Inn calls for groundbreaking in November of this year with completion in November of 2017. That would mean the hotel would be added to the town’s sewer and water system prior to the due date of the first payment on the loan, which would help keep the rate increase low.

“The hotel will consume a great deal of water and sewer,” Mr. Zapp said. “That combined with adding new subdivisions in the future would help lower the rate adjustment.”

During the most recent meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Steve Smith of the USDA informed the panel of some details.

He said the first payment on the loan would be due in June of 2018 and the project must be completed within five years unless an extension is granted by the USDA.

“The project should be designed and bid during the next five-month period,” Mr. Zapp said. “Construction will take place between March and December of 2017.” Courtesy The Daily Record