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CHIEF to distribute loans

June 09, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners will use a public-private agency to distribute money for a new revolving loan program for select users of the Washington County pretreatment and wastewater plants.

The commissioners voted last week to create the Water and Sewer Economic Development Fund. The county, however, can't distribute the money itself until state legislation is adopted during the next Maryland General Assembly session, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

Until then, the Washington County Industrial Foundation, Inc., known as CHIEF, will distribute the money, Snook said.

The County Commissioners voted to have CHIEF distribute the money after a closed session discussion Tuesday, he said.

The Commissioners gave CHIEF $200,000 in economic development funds as seed money for the program, said County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

The money, which will be a loan, will come from the Washington County General Fund, he said.

The commissioners previously considered paying for the program with part of a $350,000 general fund subsidy the Washington County Commissioners are giving the pretreatment fund in fiscal 2000. The fiscal year begins July 1.

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Instead, the County Commissioners will use $150,000 of that money to pay to lay 4 inch pipes from a railroad track near the Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Plant to the plant, Shoop said. The rest of the money will go toward operations at the plant, he said.

A state restriction prohibiting companies from directly piping waste into the plant will be lifted within a month, Shoop said. The county has wanted companies to be able to pipe the waste directly for some time.

"All of that is coming together very nicely at the right time," Shoop said.

Decisions about which companies will receive money from the revolving loan program will be made by the County Commissioners, not CHIEF, Snook said.

The eligibility criteria, loan interest rate and other details from the county program have not been decided. Some matching funds from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development may also be available.

The proposal is in part a response to concerns that sewer tap-in and usage costs may be deterring new high-paying manufacturers from doing business in the county.

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