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At Town Meeting next week Waitsfield voters will be asked to approve Phase II of the Community Wastewater Loan Fund Program (CWLFP) that authorizes the town to borrow up to $500,000 from the state's revolving loan fund.

The money borrowed will be loaned to local property owners in Irasville and Waitsfield Village to improve small-scale (decentralized) on-site wastewater systems. The loan program will also allow the town to access an existing EPA grant and use those funds to help pay off debts associated with the earlier attempt to create one larger, townwide wastewater system (the "Big Pipe" plan).

Phase I of the CWLFP is the Winter Park Association wastewater system that is in the final engineering and permitting stage and is expected to be built this spring. The town taxpayers had authorized a bond of $250,000 for Phase I projects in March of 2012.

The bond authorization for $500,000 will enable multiple landowners to apply for the loan program and proceed with construction in 2014 or 2015. The town will only borrow funds necessary for approved projects. The EPA grant authorities have advised the town that property owners must apply for the loan program in 2014 with construction to be completed by December 31, 2015, in order for the town to access the EPA grant funds. If there is sufficient demand for loans, the town can proceed with a Phase III bond authorization.

The CWLFP allows private wastewater systems to be 100 percent financed over 20 years at a low 2.5 percent fixed rate of interest. All the funding comes from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Revolving Loan Fund and the EPA STAG grant. All taxpayers benefit financially as the town will get to keep the STAG grant funds because those loans are repaid by participating property owners; thus the town will receive grant funds of approximately 40 percent of the value of any project under this program.

The CWLFP is strictly voluntary and all the systems are privately, not publicly, owned and managed. Property owners in Irasville and Waitsfield Village are encouraged to consider upgrading or expanding their wastewater system in order to take advantage of the excellent financing provided by the program. Approval of the bond authorizing up to $500,000 of loans will enable the town to receive the STAG grant funds and support the loan program for eligible property owners, explained Waitsfield Planning Commission chair Steve Shea.