Culkin water has plan for backup|[05/01/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Backup plans to pay for substantial system improvements in the Culkin Water District are in the works if loans the district is pursuing fall through.

The water provider for about 4,150 customers in northeast Warren County declared its intent to issue up to $3.5 million in general obligation bonds while it awaits word on loan funds from the Mississippi Department of Health.

&#8220That’s still hanging in the balance,” said Culkin board member James Valentine.

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Other options the board has allowed itself include a reduced-rate loan with the Mississippi Development Bank, a private lender to local governments, utility providers and others.

Officials said while the district’s chances of securing the loan remain good, the scope of the improvements will require at least two years to complete and cost more than the loan funds, which are capped at $1.5 million and are specifically geared to improve drinking water systems in Mississippi.

&#8220It’s a shotgun-type deal to give us whatever option we need,” board attorney Ken Harper said of the district’s resolution of intent to borrow the money from a variety of sources. He said terms for the bonds and other details will be determined at a later date if the board elects the bond route.

District officials have said none of the improvements will be paid for by its customers through rate increases, the last of which was in 2005. The district has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for grant funds that would reimburse 75 percent of construction costs.

Leading off the improvements will be a new water main and hydrants along Redwood Road, followed by other revamps to aging water lines there and other places in the district, some of which date to water providers at Oak Ridge, Bovina and, before it was annexed by the city, Kings.

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