The Waitsfield Select Board is working with those who borrowed funds from the town’s decentralized wastewater fund to provide assistance or alternative means of paying back those loans.
Waitsfield has a decentralized wastewater revolving loan fund which local businesses accessed to create decentralized wastewater systems in Waitsfield Village and Irasville. The largest system is the Winter Park system which serves the Big Picture, Wood and Wood, Allen Lumber and Lawson’s Finest.
Another system serves the Mad River Food Hub, and Localfolk Smokehouse has one as does China Fun.
The Waitsfield Select Board, at its May 4 meeting, discussed allowing businesses to tap into prepaid loan payments that had been escrowed as part of borrowing the money to make some or all of their 2020 payments.
“Everyone who took these loans had to provide one year’s debt payments to be escrowed. We’re looking at how people could borrow some or all of that escrow to make their payments. They’d be borrowing from money they already paid in,” explained Waitsfield town administrator Trevor Lashua.
Lashua said that the term of the “borrowing” would have to be determined and said that it would be a no-interest situation.
“That could let people have relief over a number of months or a year because it would be all internal. We’d be letting them draw on funds we already have. There are some technical aspects we’ll have to sort out. We’ll have to amend the security and loan agreements that called for escrowing one year’s worth of payments,” Lashua said.
The town’s decentralized wastewater fund payment to the state is due November 1, 2020. The payment due is $26,681. The total decentralized wastewater loan was about $428,000 with about $400,000 still owed.
Vermont is allowing towns to suspend some loan payments for a year, from June 1, 2020, to May 1, 2021. Currently, Waitsfield does not intend to accept that year of debt forgiveness for any of its debt to the state for various projects. This is because it will mean higher payments in the next fiscal year and beyond.
“We're not recommending the suspension of any other debt service payment for a variety of reasons (future budget increases, lack of substantive benefit in FY21, and the limitations associated with USRDA funds – water system only),” Lashua explained.