by Lisa Tome
If George Walker seems a little stressed, it's because he is.
Walker, Rising Sun's water and sewer commissioner, wants to shake grant and loan money loose so the Town can stop paying for the new wastewater plant with town funds.
"We have to front the money and then be reimbursed," said Walker.
The Town received a $2.8 million Maryland Department of the Environment grant to offset the cost of the plant. That grant money has to be used before the town starts using U.S. Department of Agriculture loan funds. "The money has to be spent in a certain order. It seems like we've been talking about spending money on streets and sidewalks. The most important thing right now is that the sewer project be completed on time. If it's not, the interest rates could be higher," said Walker.
The town has $8 million on a current loan. If the work at the plant isn't completed, $5 million of that could be at a higher interest rate.
"We need to make sure we get the significantly lower rate. We have followed the MDE riles and we have fronted that money. We don't have a lot of money sitting around and we have to pay the contractor," said Walker. He said that the town has paid out $900,000 from the town coffers.
At last week's Town of Rising Sun meeting, Walker stated on more than one occasion that the situation with the funding is dire.
"MDE is not real quick in (paying). If that keeps happening we're going to run out of money to front with," said Walker. "If we don't get the money on time, we won't be existing."
He said that he made those statements because he wants the rest of the town board to be mindful about spending.
"My main part was to impress upon the commissioners that we need to watch what we're spending money on. You're going to find me voting against spending money even for good causes," he said.
He said he is confident that the plant contractor, Wickersham Construction, will meet the completion deadline.
"We need to be careful how we spend our money. There's a small chance that if it's not done on time, we'd be in a heck of a jam," added Walker.