Last updated: March 12. 2014 4:43PM - 756 Views
By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentCommissioner S.J. Smith listens as William K. Cowan with McGill Associates for Engineering, Planning, and Finance details two grant programs that are available for the town of Garland to improve the infrastructure of the water and sewer systems.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentCommissioner S.J. Smith listens as William K. Cowan with McGill Associates for Engineering, Planning, and Finance details two grant programs that are available for the town of Garland to improve the infrastructure of the water and sewer systems.
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The town of Garland is looking at some funding opportunities and special programs designed to potentially strengthen the town’s infrastructure and also boost the Garland Shirt Factory through incentives designed to create more employment opportunities.

William K. Cowen of McGill Associates Engineering, Planning, Finance out of Pinehurst and John Swope, the county’s economic development director, addressed the town board and gathered citizens Tuesday night during the regular March meeting.

“I want to talk to you tonight about a couple of new funding programs for water and sewer infrastructure,” stated Cowen.

McGill Associates was based out of Asheville but moved to Pinehurst about seven years ago. He describes the company as a full service one, focusing on water, sewer, construction and environmental plus financing and other areas. Cowen said that they also have clients in the area as well.

The March 11 focus for Cowen started with an explanation of a community development block grant program.

“It has been primarily used for housing rehabilitation,” explained Cowen.

“The General Assembly at the last session earmarked all this money to go towards water and sewer,” he said. There are two cycles that are coming up, one in April that has 10 million in it and a second in May that has 15 million. He said that the program criteria is based off a point system. That point system is calculated to benefit low to moderate income communities which have high poverty rates and a high end water cost.

“You qualify for a community wide benefit,” stressed Cowen. “I talked to Mike Myers (president of Envirolink) recently about some potential projects for Garland and he strongly encouraged us to look at sewer rehab.”

“Under the community-wide benefit you could actually rehab all three of the pump stations,” explained Cowen. “You could also do lines that are greater than 40 years old. We think most or some of your lines will qualify. Pump station rehabs and sewer rehabs were the two potentially top priority candidates.”

He said the program was limited at $3 million per town, and that no match was required. The program only has $25 million available; however there will be another cycle in September which he detailed would mean that there would be another $25 to 2$6 million available at that time. He said that the April 1 and May 1 cycles would go together and that there isn’t sufficient time to apply for the April 1 deadline but the May cycle looks feasible.

If the application isn’t accepted, Cowen explained that the town can make changes and resubmit it for the September cycle as well.

“It is HUD money, Housing and Urban Development, and there are a lot of regulations that you have to have in place,” he added.

The second grant that Cowen addressed was a state grant program.

“This is the first time in several years that the General Assembly has actually put state dollars into grant programs for water and sewer,” Cowen continued. “It is also for water and sewer infrastructure but there is only 43 and half million available in that fund for the April 1 cycle but $5 million in the September 1 cycle.

“There are two types of projects that the community would be eligible for,” detailed Cowen. “One is high unit cost and the second is a TAG grant.”

The technical assistance grant, also known as a TAG grant, must address a deficiency in the system, and like the other grant is points based and does not need matching funds.

“There are limitations,” Cowen disclosed. “The TAG grant is $50 thousand per entity but the high unit cost, which are for infrastructure is for three million dollars.” Cowen explained that the company would apply on the town’s behalf and that their engineering firm has been in business for 30 years. There would have to be two public meetings as well, one for general comment and one that is project specific.

Grant back incentives

for Garland Shirt Factory

“We on a county and state level are working as much as we can to provide assistance in a variety of ways,” said Swope when he had his turn before the town board.

“At the county and municipal level we are discussing providing what is called grant back incentives,” he continued. These grants are designed to provide incentives for existing companies relocating or new companies moving in that are to grow their businesses to the benefit of the community.

The proposed incentives would provide tax revenue to the county as well as bring in an additional 28 jobs to the Garland Shirt Factory, located in Garland and Clinton.

“The company would be obligated to meet their commitment to the number jobs that will be created,” he explained further. “These are all called net new, meaning they are new to the company.”

“What I would like to do is answer whatever questions you have this evening and then request that you consider providing grant back incentive to Brooks Brothers for their proposed expansion,” said Swope. “And see if you would be willing to further consider the grant back incentives policy and also consider establishing a public hearing date in the near future that I could come back and make a presentation to you as far as the details for the proposed expansion in Garland.”

There will be public hearing date with a 10 day advance notice said Swope as well as a chance for public comment. The public hearing date has been set for April 8.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ebrown@civitasmedia.com.

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