Water District to Borrow Money to Build New Office and Garage
By Mina Corpuz
LUNENBURG -- The Water District will borrow $3.4 million to build a new office and garage along Massachusetts Avenue.
“The USDA funding is our best bet and we need to get funding in order,” said Water Board Commissioner Mark Bursch before votes were cast.
Voters who receive water service from the district approved two warrant articles relating to spending Wednesday night at its special meeting.
First was an article to appropriate a total of $3.4 million for the project. Of that, $2 million was approved that night to supplement $1.4 million the district was authorized to borrow in 2016.
The Water District is looking to move to a seven-acre property at 496 Mass. Ave. and build a new office and garage. Its current space at 50 Lesure Ave. is small and lacks storage space.
During the meeting, about 20 residents crowded into the district’s office around a table where the Water Board commissioners and superintendent sat.
Building plans on display at the meeting show more office space and a meeting room. A new garage would have multiple bays that can fit the district’s vehicles and other equipment. There would also be basement storage space.
During discussion about the appropriation, a voter asked about the amount of money the district wanted to borrow. Superintendent Fran McNamara said the figure is an engineer’s estimate that is higher than expected, but will ensure that there would be enough to cover costs for the project.
The board also assured voters that it doesn’t intend to raise water rates to build a new office and garage.
Residents voted 19-2 in favor of the funding. The article required a two-thirds vote to pass.
If voters didn’t authorize the spending, the interest rate for the project would have increased, Bursch said.
The second article approved unanimously proposed using $212,500 from a water service account for construction costs that aren’t covered by borrowing.
Bursch explained that interest wouldn’t be covered under the USDA loan the district is seeking. Money from the article would be used for that purpose.
McNamara said the district has had building plans and was ready to put the project out to bid, but the USDA said it needed the financing in order before that could happen.
With the approval from the meeting, he hopes the district will get the loan and that the project can go out to bid by December. Construction could start in the spring.
McNamara said the goal is for the Water District to be able to move into the new building by the end of 2019.
Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz.