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New Salisbury project gets second chance

The Harrison County Council again Monday night heard a request of $670,000 from the Harrison County Regional Sewer District to pay for the local match on an Economic Development Agency grant for the New Salisbury business corridor sewer project.
Last month, with only four members present, the council denied the additional appropriation. Two council members were for it and two were against. It will be brought to vote at the council’s next meeting, Monday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.
‘Unfortunately, many of you had to miss the last meeting,’ Bob Woosley, sewer board consultant from Heritage Engineering, said. ‘We wanted to come back so we can go after the grant while we’re still eligible for disaster recovery money.’
Woosley said the grant could be secured for as much as 75 percent of the $2.1 million project. The request from the county will cover a 50-percent grant, so the cost will be reduced significantly if 75 percent funding of the project is awarded.
Councilman William T. (Bill) Nichols, who voted against the appropriation last month, said it’s unfair that a business with just a ‘sink and commode’ would have to pay the same as the larger businesses.
Woosley said the monthly rate, in fact, will not be the same. The average monthly rate estimate was $75, but Woosley said for a business using normal flow with just a sink and toilet, the charge would be more like $40 or $50.
But the initial $15,000 figure will be the same for all of the 19 business properties, three of which are vacant, Woosley said.
‘Why are the costs so high?’ Council Chairman Chris Timberlake asked.
‘I’d argue that these numbers are low,’ Woosley said, adding that businesses would not be able to install a working, compliant system for $15,000.
Nichols also asked about the plumbing to hook a business to the system, which Woosley said would be the business owners’ responsibility.
‘You get them again,’ Nichols said.
But, Woosley said, the lines will be put in ‘as close as possible’ to the businesses’ hook-up areas.
Timberlake introduced a new thought into the discussion, saying he would like to see more riverboat gaming money used to lower the initial $15,000 project cost for businesses.
‘We’ve been constantly told to use riverboat money to build up infrastructure,’ Timberlake said.
Councilman Ralph Sherman also said more riverboat gaming funds should be appropriated for the project.
The sewer board gained at least one vote last night, as Councilwoman Leslie Robertson said she supports the project. Robertson was absent at the August meeting for the vote, as were Timberlake and Councilman Richard Gerdon.
Robertson said giving money to the schools for property tax relief is well and good, but the council now has the opportunity to help lay the foundation for future growth with the sewer lines.
‘That area needs economic revitalization,’ she said. ‘I’m in support (of the project).’
Woosley said the sewer district board will take the project to the business property owners for a vote if the money is approved by the county council, and then if a majority of the owners vote against the project, the EDA grant request will be pulled.
The district will hold a public meeting where votes may be cast by the owners, but each property owner also will receive a mailed ballot and will have a specific amount of time to return the vote.
Darrell Voelker, Harrison County’s Economic Development director, said he and the Economic Development Agency support the project.
In other business Monday night, the council approved $10,000 for part-time help for animal control officer Bruce LaHue. Only Sherman voted against.