Georgetown referendum seeks approval for water line upgrade

GEORGETOWN – The town of Georgetown’s interest in completing a townwide water line upgrade is headed to referendum.

The town is seeking approval to cover the interest generated in a $1.2 million upgrade – a project that would precede repaving of state-maintained roadways in the heart of the town.

The referendum, set for Monday, April 13, seeks permission to borrow upward of $1,255,000 with a 100-percent forgiveness loan, with the town responsible for an estimated $13,000 in interest during the project, according to Georgetown Town Manager Eugene Dvornick.

“The way it is set up with the state is we are eligible for loan forgiveness of the total cost of the project at the completion of the loan. They have out an interest rate during construction. So, during the project construction for any money we borrow we have to pay interest on that,” said Mr. Dvornick.

The interest rate is 1.3375 percent.

“Assuming that we borrow all of it, the very first day we start construction and we complete the project in six months, the total interest payment would be about $13,000,” said Mr. Dvornick. “That is what the voters have to approve. If the interest rate was zero, we would not have to go to referendum.”

In the past, the town received 100-percent principle forgiveness and a zero percent interest rate, Mr. Dvornick said.

A public hearing on the town’s proposal was held during the March 11 council meeting.

Polls on April 13 will be open from noon to 7 p.m. at town hall. Under town charter, residents of Georgetown and property owners are eligible to vote.

The town is seeking authorization to borrow the $1.255 million “with the knowledge that we’re going to get that amount of project done for $13,000,” Mr. Dvornick said. “Now, if the referendum doesn’t pass, then obviously we don’t do the project.”

Several years ago, the town undertook a service line and water main replacement project, but bypassed upgrades along North and South Bedford Street and East and West Market Street, which are maintained by the Delaware Department of Transportation.

“We did not do any of the service lines or the mains on the state maintained roadways, only because we didn’t want to dig the road right after DelDOT had done resurfacing. In order to accommodate that, we did everything but DelDOT roadways,” said Mr. Dvornick.

“Then we come back a couple years later, which is where we are now, and we went to the Drinking Water State Revolving to secure funding in order to do the sections that are state-maintained roadways.”

Given the green light, the project will entail replacement of the 1,225 linear feet of water mains, plus 82 water service lines, meter pits and meters coming from the water mains to the residents or businesses.

A late spring/early summer 2020 is the projected timeframe, Mr. Dvornick said.

Under the project, aging 8-inch water mains along Bedford and Market streets will be replaced with 8-inch PVC piping, followed by repaving by DelDOT. This timeframe, Mr. Dvornick said, will address potential failure that can occur if repaving is done first.

“What you want to do is be ahead of that,” said Mr. Dvornick. “What will happen if we don’t do this project now before them (DelDOT), our history has been once they do the resurfacing … you tend to see older lines fail as the new work has been done. Then we’ll be digging up brand new roadway to fix stuff.”