BELLOWS FALLS -- The village's board of trustees warned for Town Meeting Day a public vote on $8.2 million in bonds for extensive water projects, including one along Route 5 North.
Though Town Meeting Day is strictly for Vermont's town residents to voice their opinions and vote on warrant articles and matters that concern them, Bellows Falls (a village of the town of Rockingham) will utilize the day to hold a vote via Australian ballot. This year's Town Meeting Day will land on Tuesday, March 4.
Municipal Manager Willis "Chip" Stearns II told the Reformer the village has two options of where to acquire the bond from -- one is the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the other is the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Stearns said residents will simply vote in March on a limit the village is allowed to bond out, as various amounts of money will be used to pay for different projects.
Stearns told the Reformer $5 million of the $8.2 million would be used for a shovel-ready project to replace 3,800 feet of a water main that follows Route 5 North out the village. He said funding is the only thing preventing the project from getting under way.
The remaining $3.2 million in bonding, Stearns said, would be used to finance a variety of other water projects, including improvement of the intake system at the water plant in Bellow Falls and of a series of control valves. The municipal manager has previously said the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund has already approved a portion of the project up to $654,000 as long as a bond vote has been done prior to March 31, which is why the village trustees had to take action Tuesday and warn a vote. He said a bond was approved several years ago to replace pipes from the bottom of Pond Road to Industrial Drive.
Stearns said all the other loans the village has for water projects came with negative-3 percent interest and he said there is no reason to believe the bonds from the USDA or the drinking water revolving loan fund would be any different. He explained negative interest rates mean the party taking out the loan will end up paying back less than it is borrowing.
"For every $100 we get, we would pay back $97," he said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.