COVINGTON -- County commissioners approved Tuesday night a resolution and intergovernmental contract related to a $5.9 million GEFA loan to fund a portion of a wastewater pretreatment facility for Baxter International.
Funding of up to $7.9 million for an onsite wastewater pretreatment facility was part of an inducement agreement signed by the Joint Development Authority and Baxter in April. The JDA has obtained a $2 million One Georgia EDGE grant, and the other $5.9 million will be funded through a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
The resolution approved by the board authorizes the chairman to execute the intergovernmental agreement with the JDA, Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties and any documents needed to obtain the loan.
Newton County's portion of debt service payments is 37.5 percent, or a total of about $2.2 million. Walton is also responsible for 37.5 percent, Morgan for 15 percent and Jasper for 10 percent, according to the agreement. Those are the same percentages agreed upon for debt service payments on the purchase of the Stanton Springs park and revenues generated from development there.
The interest rate on the loan will be zero percent during construction, expected to take place in 2013 and 2014; and 1.8 percent after construction, with a 30-year amortization. Payments won't start until some time between 2018 and 2020.
The JDA, Morgan and Walton counties have also approved the resolution and agreement. The Jasper County BOC is expected to vote in January.
Baxter will invest $1 billion and bring 1,500 new jobs to the state. The facility will manufacture plasma-based therapies that treat chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The operation will also include warehouse and distribution facilities.
Baxter has purchased approximately 160 acres in the more than 1,600 acre Stanton Springs park. Incentives to draw Baxter here on the state and local level were estimated at as much as $200 million.
Construction will be completed in 2015 or 2016, but due to various regulatory requirements that must be met, commercial production won't begin until 2018, a Baxer official said earlier this year.
In addition to the manufacturing facility, a bio-tech training center will be built and operated by Georgia Quick Start on the site.
The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority will construct a wastewater treatment plant on property it owns at Stanton Springs to serve Baxter International, but until that's completed, wastewater will be pumped to the city of Covington's treatment facility nearly 9 miles away at the intersection of Ga. Highway 36 and Covington ByPass.
The Little River wastewater treatment plant will begin construction in 2016 and will come online in 2018, according to WASA Director Mike Hopkins. The plant, which will be located on 115 acres at the southernmost point of Stanton Springs, has been in the planning stages for four years and will serve not only Baxter but the entire Stanton Springs development and eastern Newton County. The Authority has already expended about $3 million on the project, which will cost a total of approximately $19 million, according to Hopkins. The treatment standards that will be in place are a reason the plant is so expensive, said Hopkins.
Baxter will pretreat water on site before it is transported to WASA's treatment plant. Hopkins said the water will undergo several stages of treatment and have to meet stringent local and state guidelines. Once treated, the water will be released into the Little River, he said.