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Massena village board authorizes bond resolution for sewer project

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MASSENA - The Massena Village Board authorized a bond resolution Tuesday allowing them to borrow up to $3.2 million that would be used to fund a future sewer project.

That loan would then be paid off using funding that would come from the New York State Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and paid back over a 20- or 30-year period.

Trustee Frances J. Carvel expressed concerns about authorizing a $3.2 million bond, without first knowing exactly what work would be done, but engineer Timothy A. Burley of C2AE, Canton, said a bond resolution and actually taking out a loan were two very different things.

“It’s kind of like getting pre-approved for a loan at the bank before you go shopping,” Mr. Burley said. “What you’re doing is applying for funding. You are not obligated to go forward.”

Massena Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said one of the things the project would address is the village’s sewer line along state Route 37.

“We have some issues along the front main on 37,” he said, adding they have had that project on the CWSRF waiting list for the past six years without coming close to qualifying for funding.

Now that Mr. Burley is expecting the village to qualify for CWSRF funding, Mr. Fayad said he was approached by Mr. Burley to see if there were additional issues that could be addressed with the monies.

“You waited in line for six years, seven years now and you have a chance for 2 point something financing for 30 years,” Mr. Burley said. “This type of money is a more cost effective way of doing something you were likely going to do anyway.”

Mr. Burley also added that the village would have the option of paying back the loan over 20 years.

In addition to work on the state Route 37 sewer line, the project also includes the replacement of manholes, construction of a pumping station, aeration improvements and a bio-solids recycling system.

Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies asked what would happen if the project ended up costing more than the $3.2 million they’re authorized to borrow.

Mr. Burley said the village would then have several options, including redoing the bond resolution, only doing a portion of the project or even paying for the excess amount with local funds.

“You control the project,” he said. “You could get approval and choose not to go forward. At least queue up and if you don’t want to go forward that’s fine.”

Trustee Patricia K. Wilson said she thinks the time is right to look at a project.

“This money may not be available to us again, and we need this overhaul,” she said.

While the board did vote unanimously to approve the resolution, not everyone at the meeting thought it was a good idea.

“I think it’s great to improve your infrastructure when you can afford it,” village resident R. Shawn Gray said, adding that now may not be the time to be looking at a $3.2 million project.

Referring to the fact that Treasurer Julie Sharlow told board members last week the village’s fund balance would likely be down to $400,000 when it came time to look at the village’s 2014-2015 budget, Mr. Gray questioned whether it was the right time to be acquiring debt. “In our homes if we can’t afford something we don’t do it. Now might not be the time to be moving forward with this,” he said.

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