By Stefanie Jackson – Exmore has received a notice from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality offering the town a low-interest loan for up to $17,255,000 to build a new sewer treatment plant and collection system.
The entire project would cost $17 million to $18 million, Director of Utiities Taylor Dukes estimated last month. However, Exmore can afford to borrow no more than $10 million, Town Manager Robert Duer said.
The total project cost will decrease if Exmore doesn’t build a new sewer treatment plant, Dukes noted.
Duer asserted that Exmore’s “worst-case scenario” is borrowing $8 million. He’s aiming to borrow as little as $4 million.
The loan of more than $17 million from the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, authorized by Virginia’s State Water Control Board, boasts a .5% interest rate for up to 30 years.
Dukes expects to receive an additional notice in March with the amount of “principal forgiveness” that Exmore could get on the loan – basically a grant, he said.
With limited borrowing capacity, the town is looking for ways to acquire additional funding and reduce project costs.
Exmore is applying for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
The money would be used for town sewer system upgrades required by the Virginia Department of Health.
The $1 million requested is federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, administered by DHCD.
Exmore has held two public hearings on the grant application that will be submitted in March 29.
The process is competitive, with just $8.8 million available. $1 million is the maximum amount for which the town may apply.
Exmore also is applying for grant funding from the U.S. Department of of Agriculture, Rural Development. The town is asking for the full cost of the sewer project and will wait for an offer from USDA.
Many Exmore homes have failing septic systems. Only about one-third of the homes – around 180 – have sewer service. Exmore wants to extend sewer service to about 500 more homes, Dukes said.
Grants are “critical to keep the sewer rates affordable,” Dukes said.
Police Chief’s Report
Last month, Duer discussed possibly hiring a code enforcement officer to help Exmore get cleaned up.
Exmore Police Chief Angelo DiMartino announced Monday night that Officer H. “Chip” Little volunteered for the job, saving the town from hiring an additional employee.
Little will continue serving the town as a police officer but will concentrate on code enforcement during day shifts, DiMartino said.
“We really have some houses that need cleaning up. If they were my neighbors, I’d be highly irritated,” he remarked.
Items needing removal include “junk cars … piles of trash … structures that are falling down,” DiMartino said.
The code enforcement officer will notify town residents of cleanup needed on their property, and if the work is not done within 30 days, a summons will be issued.
DiMartino said he is looking into purchasing some affordable cameras for Exmore after the town experienced three drive-by shootings in about a month.
Shots were fired into homes Dec. 10, 4:47 a.m., Dec. 23, 4:44 a.m., and Jan. 4, 2:15 a.m., DiMartino said.
In one instance, a bullet passed through one house and into another, he said.
DiMartino did not report that anyone was injured in any of the shootings.
He said the drive-by shootings are not exclusive to Exmore but are occurring throughout Northampton County, in areas like Hare Valley and the town of Cheriton.
DiMartino said the cameras are necessary to identify the vehicles used in the shootings.
“At this time in the morning, even if people wanted to talk, they’re not seeing it,” he said.