SPSA approves bailout plan

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

The board of directors of the Southeastern Public Service Authority approved a financial bailout plan Thursday that should keep the agency afloat until it can sell its waste-to-energy plant later this year.

The plan includes a $26 million loan from Virginia Beach, a $17.2 million line of credit from Wachovia Bank and National Association, and $72 million in refinanced bonds from the Virginia Resources Authority, a state lending agency that is SPSA’s largest creditor.

SPSA, the regional trash disposal authority, is mired in $240 million in debt and facing a budget shortfall this year, as well.

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The loan from Virginia Beach is in the form of deferred tipping fee rebates and ash landfill fees through June 2010. SPSA and Virginia Beach will sign a promissory note in which SPSA agrees to begin paying back the deferred fees in later years.

Franklin, Isle of Wight County, Southampton County, Suffolk and Portsmouth are guaranteeing the full and timely payment of up to $72 million in SPSA bonds. Chesapeake and Norfolk are guaranteeing the $17.2 million from Wachovia Bank and National Association.

The intended result of the restructuring will be to reduce the debt that SPSA will have to pay in the next two fiscal years. The debt would increase in fiscal years 2015-2018. Last month, SPSA board members approved a $170 per ton tipping fee, the money communities pay to dump their trash in the landfill.

Board members at Thursday’s special meeting applauded regional cooperation among the member communities’ city managers and county administrators.

“I think it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the CAOs (chief administrative officers),” said Suffolk City Councilman Jeffrey Gardy, the city’s representative on the board.