Fayette village council 2011.12.21

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Plans for funding Fayette’s sewer separation project took a turn for the worse since federal dollars are becoming more scarce.

Roberta Acosta of the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) broke the news to council members Dec. 14 at the committee of the whole meeting.

“There are some issues with the funding that have come up,” she said. “There are not much federal dollars coming this year.”

RCAP, a private non-profit agency, has worked with the village for several years in an effort to seek funding for sewer work.

Acosta reminded council of its decision to complete the sewer work in one large project rather than tackling smaller phases, as was done in the past.

The U.S.D.A.  was to fund 45 percent of the project cost, but now, Acosta said, the offer is to give a grant of $1.7 million (28 percent of the cost) and a loan of $2.4 million.

Acosta said she told U.S.D.A. representatives that Fayette’s project would grind to a halt with those arrangements.

She estimates that sewer rates would need to increase by $33 a month to finance the U.S.D.A. proposal.

If council were to forgo the U.S.D.A. money, she said, and instead borrow everything interest-free from the U.S. EPA, rates would bump up by about half that much. Initially, an increase of only $8 a month was expected.

Acosta said she will continue pushing the U.S.D.A. for additional funds.

There are four areas where applicants accumulate points in the competitive funding program and Fayette has the maximum number of points in three areas. Earning more points in the fourth could lead to a grant covering up to 75 percent of the project. Acosta said it’s a long shot to move up in the standings, but it’s worth a try.

Maintenance supervisor Tom Clemensen told council it’s important to document sewer backups—septic sewage, not storm water, and backups related to the main sewer lines and not service lines to homes.

Clemensen said he’s received reports of sewage backing up into basements following heavy rain events.

The predicament for the village, Acosta said, comes through rising construction costs.

“I always tell people, ‘Your project is never going to get cheaper than now,’ ” she said.

An increase in grant funding will likely be partially offset by higher construction costs.

PARKS—The Fayette park board is recommending Nick Ramos to serve as the new park director. A second candidate was also very qualified, Clemensen said, making the board’s decision a tough one. Council will vote on filling the position at the Dec. 28 meeting.

Park board member Jason Ohlemacher said discussion continues with the Fayette United Methodist Church youth group about operating the park concession stand next summer as a fund raiser.

The youth group, or any other interested organization, would pay for utilities—estimated at $100 a month—and the village would only handle any maintenance needs that might arise.

ZONING—Dave Wheeler announced his resignation from the village zoning board since he will join village council in January.

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    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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