MORGANTOWN — A $14 million upgrade to Morgantown Utility Board water and sewer infrastructure supporting WestRidge and the larger Chaplin Hill/Mylan Park area looks like it’s going to require a far larger local investment than initially hoped.
Based on information initially shared by MUB General Manager Mike McNulty and detailed during Wednesday’s Monongalia County Commission meeting, a pair of grant requests currently before the West Virginia Water Development Authority will require a 50% local match, not 20%, as initially anticipated.
Commissioner Sean Sikora indicated the jump in required local participation appeared to be based to some degree on the fact that the request to fund upgrades in support of new development in Monongalia County is being weighed against requests to fund more base-level infrastructure in poorer parts of the state out of a limited pool of money.
“They basically said, ‘Listen, one of the issues, it’s Mon County. We’ve got bigger concerns, so if you guys don’t come up with a 50% match, it’s likely not to get approved,’” Sikora said. “So that’s when we came back and said, ‘Ok, we’ve got to find a way to come up with 50%.’”
The upgrades, totaling $7,225,000 on the water side and $6,838,000 for sewer, will include the construction of a new water tank, a booster station and the boring of new water and sewer lines beneath the Monongahela River.
Of the $7,031,500 in local funds needed, $3,590,000 will come from MUB — $1.66 million on-hand as part of a future project reserve and $1.93 million through an Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council loan. Another $2,050,000 will come by way of American Rescue Plan Act dollars through the county commission and $1,391,500 will come from developer WestRidge and the surrounding TIF district.
“This represents a level of cooperation with MUB and the developer and the commission that I don’t know has ever been seen, at least in recent history,” Commissioner Jeff Arnett said. “MUB’s got some serious skin in the game with this and we’re looking forward to getting this project moving forward.”
Commission President Tom Bloom said he fears a city of Morgantown ordinance under consideration could limit the ability to quickly adapt to these kinds of changing circumstances.
The ordinance in question, currently tabled before Morgantown City Council, would give council increased authority over MUB projects.
“If you notice, it was the county, MUB and WestRidge. I want to make it very clear, if we move forward and have a new ordinance that the city would become involved, that could have jeopardized this whole project,” Bloom said. “That’s what the concern is — to have to go two-to-five weeks to get it approved.”