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Solid Waste secures over $8 million for improvements

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | March 3, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — Financial backing for a Solid Waste infrastructure project got the green light from county commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners gave approval for the Solid Waste department to proceed with taking out an $8,733,700 two-year bridge loan with Columbia Bank for the Solid Waste’s capital improvements project.

The project will update solid waste collection sites in the county, some of which are currently without paving or fencing, and others which have not been updated for decades.

“The plan is to upgrade our facilities to be able to receive the increase in trash that we see from growth within the county,” Emergency Services Director Bob Howard said Wednesday. “It’s to make us more efficient, more environmentally friendly to the community, and help us just do a better job.”

A large portion of the funding will go toward updating the Colburn transfer site on Pinecone Road.

“Our Colburn site is almost 30 years old. And when it was originally built, it was built for a five-year lifespan,” Howard said. “Here we are almost 30 years later and there’s been no change to that site. It’s a huge piece of infrastructure that needs to be brought up to standard, so that’s what we’re doing.”

The loan with Columbia Bank is an interim loan between the bank and the county. Also known as a bridge loan, an interim loan is a temporary loan given by a trust, usually a bank, to a government or other qualified borrower. Bridge loans are used as a financial strategy to avoid directly taking on debt.

Even though the interim loan with Columbia Bank will be repaid in two years, the project will take the Solid Waste Department 10 years to pay back. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program will reimburse funding for the project at the end of the two-year loan.

“It was in the requirement. USDA requires us to take out an interim loan, a bridge loan,” Commission Chairman Dan McDonald said Tuesday. “Once the project is accepted, then they fully fund and pay off that bridge loan. It’s a construction loan. We know what the interest is. We don’t know what the total cost of construction will be.”

Howard incorporated the repayment timeline into the department’s budget.

“I built the loan payment into the current budget to be paid off in 10 years, but it’s a two-year construction period,” Howard said Wednesday.

Other projects in the department's improvement project include upgrades to the Idaho Hill, Dufort, and Dickensheet collection sites.

“[Right now] it’s gravel, there’s no fencing, and so we’re going to secure the sites and pave them to make it a lot better,” Howard said of the Idaho Hill and Dickensheet sites. “Right now people get in there, and animals get in there and they can just take trash and spread it all through the woods. We get a lot of vandalisms and thefts at our trash sites. I know that seems weird, but people don’t even have to break in there, I mean, they can just walk right in because there’s no fences.”

The public is invited to comment on matters related to the loan for the next 30 days. After that, Solid Waste anticipates advertising for construction bids in May.

Solid Waste can be contacted by calling 208-255-5681 on weekdays during regular business hours. They can also be reached by emailing SolidWaste@BonnerCountyID.gov

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