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Board designates $5 million toward tourism projects, infrastructure

| Friday, March 23, 2001

UNIONTOWN - In addition to floating an $11.78 million bond issue for numerous economic development projects throughout the county, the commissioners obtained a $9 million line of credit from Washington County Authority bond pool.

The board designated $5 million of this line of credit for tourism projects and infrastructure improvements undertaken by municipalities.

On Thursday, the board approved the fifth request for funding from the pool which is administered by the Redevelopment Authority of Fayette County.

The board approved a $350,000 loan for the National Pike Water Association which will use the loan to repay engineering fees from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The association is installing water lines along Route 40 which will service 210 customers, said Raymond Polaski, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

The total cost of the National Pike project is $5 million.

Commissioner Vincent Vicites said this loan is a good example of why the loan pool was set up, to offer gap financing until the municipalities or authorities' other funding sources come through.

County solicitor Joseph Ferens said the redevelopment authority is the lead agency to recommended to the board of commissioners investment projects and whether the prospective borrower is able to borrow from the fund and can meet the standards for repayment.

Ferens said the authority volunteered to administer the loans for a nominal fee, 1/4 of 1 percent or $9,000 if the total $5 million is utilized. Ferens told the commissioners that the perspective borrower pays this fee.

Commissioner Ronald Nehls indicated that he would like to meet with Polaski when an application is submitted to discuss the potential applicants, indicating that he would like to table the approval of the National Pike loan until the next meeting.

'The commissioners ultimately are responsible for the money. They're the ones who have final approval. If the board choose not to loan money, then it can't be loaned,' said Ferens, also indicating that the board approved four projects in December which cannot be rescinded.

The commissioners approved the cooperation agreement between the county and the redevelopment authority for the administration of the funds.

'We're not giving funding to anyone who can't pay it back,' said Commissioner Sean Cavanagh. 'We're eager to get money into their hands for sewage and water projects.'

Polaski said that as agreements are approved by the board, it will then be up to the applicant's solicitor to contact Ferens to begin preparation of settlement documents and set the payment schedule.

Other authorities who have received financing from the loan pool include: Smithfield Borough, $99,000 for infrastructure; Menallen Township, $500,000 for sewage; Brownsville Redevelopment Authority, $91,750; and Mountain Water Association, $50,000.

In other matters, the board:

  • Approved the appointments of Dianne H. Zerega and Jeffrey S. Proden as criminal conflict attorneys at $20,423 after counsel Phyllis Jin was recently named a Fayette County assistant district attorney and Mark F. Morrison resigned to devote more time to his private practice.

  • Approved the request for $25,000 from the planning committee of the Fayette County Agriculture and Natural Resource building, tentatively slated to be built at the county-owned fairgrounds.

  • Approved the hiring of the Larson Design Group of Canonsburg for site analysis of the proposed site of the F.A.C.T transit facility at the county airport. Cost is $930.

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