Clallam County commissioners voted to authorize the repayment of a $10 million state loan for a wastewater treatment system in Carlsborg from the county’s Opportunity Fund.
The Opportunity Fund, which comes from a 0.09 percent state sales tax, can be used for public infrastructure projects that spur economic growth. County Administrator Jim Jones said the fund receives annual revenue around $900,000.
At the commissioners Dec. 19 work session, Commissioner Mike Chapman said it seemed like an appropriate use of the money.
The county, in partnership with the Clallam County Public Utility District, continues to explore plans for a possible sewer system in the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area.
The UGA was found non-compliant with the state’s Growth Management Act in 2008 because it lacked sewage infrastructure and the area hasn’t seen any new development or growth since then. Interim controls, which prohibit most development, were extended for another six months earlier in December.
Court appeals and sewer plans are part of the county’s two-pronged approach to solving the UGA problem.
Resident cost concerns
Some Carlsborg residents regularly express their concern about the financial burden of a new sewer system, which many feel is unnecessary or only beneficial to commercial property owners and businesses.
Preliminary assessments of what the sewer system would cost individual property owners is not yet known.
Aside from the freeze on development, county health officials also have concerns about rising nitrate levels in Carlsborg’s aquifers. They believe failing septic tanks and greater densities of septic tanks may be loading the groundwater with nitrates.
Commissioner Steve Tharinger said allowing the Opportunity Fund to pay back the $10 million Public Works Trust Fund loan gives more flexibility in establishing costs.
“The property owners deserve options,” he said at the Dec. 20 commissioners meeting.
The authorization may mean the PUD no longer needs to establish a local utility district to pay for the proposed sewer project, he said.
Tharinger said he hopes being able to use the fund to repay the loan will bring the county closer to constructing a sewer system.
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