By Michael Howell
Stevensville’s wastewater treatment improvement project remains financially feasible and will move forward despite the fact that an anticipated grant from the state did not come through. The Town’s Community Development Block Grant application for $450,000 was recently denied, but changes in interest rates and other factors will keep the project within its budget, according to HDR representative Cora Revis.
Mayor Gene Mim Mack told the Council that the Department of Commerce had received 18 grant requests for a total of $7.5 million. Stevensville was one of the 12 chosen for consideration but did not make the final cut when only seven grants were awarded. There was some discussion about the reasons for the denial and Mim Mack suggested that the town’s project was, in a sense, a proactive project designed to meet future standards while many other towns, especially in eastern Montana, are experiencing real crisis issues with their water and sewer infrastructure and need emergency improvements.
Revis explained how, despite the failure to receive the grant, the projected cost of the project is actually going down due to a change in interest rates. The original cost projections included a debt service payment figured at 3.5% interest for a total debt service of about $74,000 annually. But with current interest rates at only 2.75% the debt service will amount to $72,400 annually. She noted that the grant-to-loan ratio on the grant/loan package from Rural Development also changed in the town’s favor from, 70% loan/30% grant to 60% loan/40% grant.
The town did receive a $5,500 CDBG planning grant to make plans for establishing a Targeted Economic Development District at the Airport. This is new terminology for what was, in the past, called a Tax Increment Finance District. It is a concept in which new tax revenue that accrues in the district is designated specifically for use in the district.
The Council agreed to pay an invoice from PCI for $4,762.68 for engineering work on the town’s water project.
With temporary water shut-offs looming due to the planned improvements to the water main in town, a meeting is scheduled for August 21 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall at which residents may become informed about the details of the planned work schedule. Contractors and engineers will be present and maps and plans will be available for review. Individual water shut-offs may last four or more hours, according to the Mayor.
The town received another letter from the owners of the Creamery building, Brett Mauri and Carrie Ann McEnroe, re-stating their belief that the building and property were never properly annexed into the Tax Increment Finance District on the north end of town. The couple states that they do not intend to abide by restrictions in the District that prohibit the renting out of apartments in the building for residential purposes.
Mayor Mim Mack said that he has referred the issue and the correspondence to the Town’s attorney and is awaiting a response.